Removal from Michigan’s Sex Offender Registry. The Romeo and Juliet crime

This is a difficult topic to discuss.  Prosecutors and Politicians have successfully labeled sex offenders as evil living among us.  The truth is there are degrees of wrong associated with sex crimes.  For years, politicians added more and more criminal offenses that required the defendant to sign up on the sex offender registry.  In 2011, the Politicians realized their erroneous ways and because to scale back the expansion of the sex offender registry. In Michigan, one of the first areas for reform was the “Romeo and Juliet” crime.

There are several paths in which to seek removal from the sex offender registry.  One of the paths is based on Romeo and Juliet Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC) crimes.  These are crimes where the victim consents to sexual conduct with a male companion who is very close in age to the victim.  Typically, these are teenage lovers, a girl that is 15 years old with a 17-year-old boyfriend.  The underlying crime is statutory rape.

The Statute that allows the removal of the Romeo and Juliet crime

The statute that addressed removal from the sex offender registry is MCL 28.728c.  In a nutshell, a “Romeo and Juliet” crime is when there is consensual sex between a victim and perpetrator who are very close in age. A link to the statute:

MCL 28.728c

The statute states:

(3) An individual classified as a tier I, tier II, or tier III offender who meets the requirements of subsection (14) or (15) may petition the court under that subsection for an order allowing him or her to discontinue registration under this act.

(14) The court shall grant a petition properly filed by an individual under subsection (3) if the court determines that the conviction for the listed offense was the result of a consensual sexual act between the petitioner and the victim and any of the following apply:

(a) All of the following: (i) The victim was 13 years of age or older but less than 16 years of age at the time of the offense. (ii) The petitioner is not more than 4 years older than the victim.

(b) All of the following: (i) The individual was convicted of a violation of section 158, 338, 338a, or 338b of the Michigan penal code, 1931 PA 328, MCL 750.158, 750.338, 750.338a, and 750.338b. (ii) The victim was 13 years of age or older but less than 16 years of age at the time of the violation. (iii) The individual is not more than 4 years older than the victim.

(c) All of the following: (i) The individual was convicted of a violation of section 158, 338, 338a, 338b, or 520c(1)(i) of the Michigan penal code, 1931 PA 328, MCL 750.158, 750.338, 750.338a, 750.338b, and 750.520c. (ii) The victim was 16 years of age or older at the time of the violation. (iii) The victim was not under the custodial authority of the individual at the time of the violation.

The important prerequisites are the following: 1) Consensual sexual contact; 2) The victim was 13 years of age or older but less than 16 years of age; and 3) The petitioner was not more than 4 years older than the victim. The victim, almost always, is a young woman between the age of 13 to 16, with an older boyfriend, not more than 4 years older, which constitutes the Romeo and Juliet crime.

Any current registrant who qualifies under the subsections of MCL 28.728c(3) & (12) should seek the aid of an attorney.  MCL 28.728c is a complicated statute.  I currently offer a review service for people considering filing a petition for removal from the sex offender registry.

About the Author: 

Matthew Benedict is a Traverse City defense criminal attorney practicing law in all of Northern Michigan, including Grand Traverse, Lake, Osceola, Mason, Manistee, Wexford, Kalkaska, Roscommon, Crawford, Otsego, Leelanau, Benzie, and Manistee counties.  Please call today for an appointment.  2318834170 Please visit my criminal law blog here.

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