Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Non-Monogamous Families and the Law, Part 23: Summary of Michigan Laws

Author's Note:

Firstly, I apologize for not getting this up over the weekend, totally my fault, bad time management combined with some laziness.

Secondly, this review doesn't come close to really covering the complexity of Michigan's criminal laws. It's, to put it simply, a mess, and I can't really say I'm completely confident of my assessment here. If anyone has feedback where I can improve on this, please...

- Jason

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Non-Monogamous Families and the Law, Part 23: Summary of Michigan Laws

Adultery:

Adultery in Michigan creates liability for both involved parties (Michigan State Legislature, 2011a); however, that liability is severely limited as adultery charges can only be brought up by the other spouse (Michigan State Legislature, 2011c), thus creating an internal liability only. Punishment is up to 1 month imprisonment though repeat offences and mitigating circumstances can dramatically increase that to up to 17 months (Michigan State Legislature, 2011c; Michigan State Legislature, 2011o; Michigan State Legislature, 2011q; Michigan State Legislature, 2011r).

Inchoate laws apply to varying degrees. Conspiracy is liable with up to 1 year of imprisonment and up to $1,000 fine (Michigan State Legislature, 2011f). Solicitation and attempt are liable for up to 15 days imprisonment and up to $1,000 fine (Michigan State Legislature, 2011e; Michigan State Legislature, 2011g).

Additionally, Michigan laws include both lewd & lascivious behavior (Michigan State Legislature, 2011h), and gross indecency (Michigan State Legislature, 2011i; Michigan State Legislature, 2011j; Michigan State Legislature, 2011k), which affects unmarried individuals. Punishment for lewd & lascivious is up to one year imprisonment or up to $1,000 fine (Michigan State Legislature, 2011h). Punishment for gross indecency is up to 5 years imprisonment or up to $2,500 fine (Michigan State Legislature, 2011i; Michigan State Legislature, 2011j; Michigan State Legislature, 2011k). Inchoate laws apply here as well, with solicitation and attempt having up to 6 months imprisonment and $1,000 fine (Michigan State Legislature, 2011f), and conspiracy having up to 1 year and up to $1,000 fine (Michigan State Legislature, 2011e; Michigan State Legislature, 2011g). Neither of these are internally liable only.

Bigamy:

Though Michigan bigamy laws (referred to in the laws as polygamy) do reference co-habitation, it is in reference to bigamous marriage and doesn’t apply like a regular co-habitation clause (Michigan State Legislature, 2011l). Co-Habitation of this manner is identical to bigamy without purportation or co-habitation clauses. Liability exists for both marryer and marryee (Michigan State Legislature, 2011l; Michigan State Legislature, 2011m), with punishment being the same as adultery: up to 1 month imprisonment, with escalating punishment and inchoate offences applying the same as well (Michigan State Legislature, 2011p; Michigan State Legislature, 2011q; Michigan State Legislature, 2011r).

In addition, Michigan has a law that will add liability for any divorced person to co-habit with another at the same liability as bigamy (Michigan State Legislature, 2011d). There is also a law against “teaching, soliciting and advocating the practice of polygamy,” also punishable in the same way as adultery/bigamy (Michigan State Legislature, 2011n).

Round-Up of Laws:

Due to the rather bizarre mix of laws that Michigan has, and the varying degrees of punishment, Michigan’s impact on non-monogamists is confusing at best. Adultery is only internally liable, but other similar laws, lewd & lascivious and gross indecency, are not limited in the same way. Lewd and lascivious is only applicable outside of a legal marriage, and gross indecency is applicable regardless. Exact definitions are lacking for lewd & lascivious and gross indecency, however it can be inferred that lewd & lascivious specifically refers to being unmarried and co-habiting with an unmarried partner, and that gross indecency is anything that falls outside the sexual norm. This creates a huge liability for any and all non-monogamists because of the severe punishment for gross indecency (5 years/$2,500), as well as creating a power inequity within the relationship due to the internal-only nature of the adultery laws.

Bigamy laws in Michigan are, surprisingly, very docile compared to the laws in the adultery category. The inclusion of the divorced co-habiting law and the teaching law increase liability, but with punishment being a paltry 1 month it’s almost laughable. The teaching law is of notable concern, as even discussing polyamory could fall into liability under this law.

Inchoate laws provide the expected range of extended liability, at a surprisingly higher level in the case of conspiracy, and the escalating punishment for repeat/mitigating offences can push both adultery and bigamy into the +1 year imprisonment range.

Non-Monogamous Strategies:

With the complexity of Michigan’s laws around non-monogamy, the strategies are equally as complex. Surprisingly there’s *less* liability being non-monogamous within a legal marriage in Michigan than there is being unmarried, since adultery is only internally liable. This is largely negated by the gross indecency laws and their severe punishment however.

The teaching law is a challenging one to avoid, as it effectively eliminates the capacity to communicate about anything non-monogamous in an open and free way. This law is very 1984-ish in how it limits open communication, and is the law in most danger of affecting the repeat offences escalations and causing greater punishments for other laws. Beyond showing extreme discretion in communicating about non-monogamy issues, there’s little that can be done to avoid this liability.

References

Michigan State Legislature. (2011a). Adultery; definitions. (Michigan Code 750.29). Lansing, MI: Michigan State Legislature.

Michigan State Legislature. (2011b). Adultery; punishment. (Michigan Code 750.30). Lansing, MI: Michigan State Legislature.

Michigan State Legislature. (2011c). Adultery; complaint and time of prosecution. (Michigan Code 750.31). Lansing, MI: Michigan State Legislature.

Michigan State Legislature. (2011d). Adultery; cohabitation of divorced parties. (Michigan Code 750.32). Lansing, MI: Michigan State Legislature.

Michigan State Legislature. (2011e). Attempt to commit a crime. (Michigan Code 750.92). Lansing, MI: Michigan State Legislature.

Michigan State Legislature. (2011f). Conspiracy to commit offense or legal act in illegal manner; penalty. (Michigan Code 750.157a). Lansing, MI: Michigan State Legislature.

Michigan State Legislature. (2011g). Solicitation to commit murder or felony; penalty; affirmative defense. (Michigan Code 750.157b). Lansing, MI: Michigan State Legislature.

Michigan State Legislature. (2011h). Lewd and lascivious cohabitation and gross lewdness. (Michigan Code 750.335). Lansing, MI: Michigan State Legislature.

Michigan State Legislature. (2011i). Gross indecency; between male persons. (Michigan Code 750.338). Lansing, MI: Michigan State Legislature.

Michigan State Legislature. (2011j). Gross indecency; between female persons. (Michigan Code 750.338a). Lansing, MI: Michigan State Legislature.

Michigan State Legislature. (2011k). Gross indecency; between male and female persons. (Michigan Code 750.29). Lansing, MI: Michigan State Legislature.

Michigan State Legislature. (2011l). Polygamy; definition; felony. (Michigan Code 750.439). Lansing, MI: Michigan State Legislature.

Michigan State Legislature. (2011m). Knowingly marrying one to whom marriage is prohibited; felony. (Michigan Code 750.440). Lansing, MI: Michigan State Legislature.

Michigan State Legislature. (2011n). Teaching, soliciting and advocating polygamy; felony. (Michigan Code 750.441). Lansing, MI: Michigan State Legislature.

Michigan State Legislature. (2011o). MCL 750.13 to 750.32; felonies to which chapter applicable. (Michigan Code 777.16a). Lansing, MI: Michigan State Legislature.

Michigan State Legislature. (2011p). MCL 750.422 to 750.441; felonies to which chapter applicable. (Michigan Code 750.29). Lansing, MI: Michigan State Legislature.

Michigan State Legislature. (2011q). Minimum sentence range; determination. (Michigan Code 777.21). Lansing, MI: Michigan State Legislature.

Michigan State Legislature. (2011r). Minimum sentence ranges for class H. (Michigan Code 777.69). Lansing, MI: Michigan State Legislature.

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