Michigan changes law on teen sex cases

April 13, 2011 at 1:25 PM
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DETROIT, April 13 (UPI) -- Consensual but illegal sex between teenagers will no longer result in the older partner being put on Michigan's state sex offender registry, lawmakers say.

Under a law signed Tuesday by Gov. Rick Snyder, so-called Romeo and Juliet offenders will no longer be included on the registry if they're convicted of having sex with 13-, 14- or 15-year-olds, as long as the offending partner isn't more than four years older, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Critics of the registry say putting teens on the list stigmatizes them because it does not distinguish between them and dangerous sexual predators.

The registry, launched in 1995, is meant to warn the public about where convicted sex offenders, many considered predators based on past crimes, are living.

"This is a monumental change" and will correct an injustice, state Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, who sponsored the law, said. "It's destroying someone's life, where you have a boyfriend and girlfriend in a consensual act. It's not appropriate."

Despite the new law, Michigan's age of consent remains the same at 16 years.

The new law, Snyder said, will "really highlight the people who deserve to be on the registry and not distract with other people who should be living their lives and pose no risk to the public."

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