Fifty Shades of Grey: What The Law Says About BDSM in Michigan

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Michigan is very clear on the circumstances in which BDSM may occur.

 

If you’re anything like several thousand other Americans who love a racy drama, then you can expect to be flocking to the cinema with countless others on February 10th for the next installment of the ’50 Shades’ movie. However, loving a movie and reenacting it’s content are two different things. So for those of you inspired by the story, we want to take a moment to address some of the more controversial subjects raised by this film – the issue of Bondage and Dominance, Dominance and Submission (BDSM).

 

As you know, the original book was titled 50 shades of Grey, making it very applicable to the law. How is that, you wonder? Surely there are no grey areas in the law? Actually not. The law can certainly be read in black and white, but there are almost always exceptions. This is where the lawyers come in – for the grey areas! However, when it comes to certain aspects of Michigan law, you should assume that this is a case of 50 shades of black and white.

 

What a consenting, legally adult, couple does behind closed doors is entirely their own business. As long as they are not breaking any laws, and no one is harmed or victimized in the process, we believe it is not anyone’s business to tell them what they may or may not do for pleasure. However, there are a few things to bear in mind regarding what Michigan law has to say on the matter…

 

The Age of Consent:

In Michigan, the age of consent is 16. If the defendant is a teacher or a school employee, the age of consent is raised to 18. This is important to know because in Michigan, even if the minor agreed willingly to the sexual activity and is willing to stand up in court and say so, it makes no difference! Underaged is underaged in the eyes of the law, and any adult caught having sexual relations (even fully consensual ones) with a minor under the age of consent is going to face sexual assault charges.

 

Assault and Battery:

Tying your sexual partner to the bedpost and spanking them with say,…a soup ladle, is a perfectly legal (if a little different) way to spend a Saturday evening. That is, IF YOUR PARTNER CONSENTED to the activity! Also, be aware that consent can be withdrawn at any time, including in the middle of an act. If you tie your partner to the bedpost and spank them with anything at all against their will, you are looking at possible Assault charges, which is no joke. Under Michigan law, anyone who assaults another person is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by jail time of up to 93 days and a possible fine of $500. Depending on the severity of the assault, the charge could be increased to a felony.

 

Domestic Violence:

In Michigan, the law differentiates between assault and battery that takes place between unrelated persons, and people who are married or in a relationship together. When you assault your spouse or relationship partner, this becomes domestic violence. Although the jail time and fines are the same, there is one minor difference: if you are convicted of domestic violence for a second time, the fines go up to $1,000 and the jail time can be as much as a year.

 

Unlawful Imprisonment:

Another thing to be mindful of, should you and your spouse or partner like the idea of being tied to the bedpost, is the issue of unlawful imprisonment. According to Michigan law, you may tie each other up to your heart’s content as long as the restrained person WANTS TO BE THERE! As soon as that changes, they are unlawfully imprisoned and that is a very serious crime punishable by possible prison time and substantial fines.

 

Brandy Thompson, a family law attorney at The Kronzek Firm strongly suggests that you, “Make sure that you both understand fully what you are consenting to and what the other has consented to. Informed and voluntary consent may mean the difference between an adventurous evening with your significant other and criminal charges. (Personal Protection Order, anyone?)
So we urge you to enjoy a movie this weekend, whether it’s the next 50 shades installment or something else entirely, and enjoy yourself, but make sure that your fun keeps yourself and everyone with you on the right side of the law. If however, you and your partner disagree on what is acceptable fun and what isn’t, we are here to help you pick up the pieces. Call us at 517 866 1000. An experienced attorney is standing by to advise you, 24/7 and even on weekends.

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