Mich. Appeals Court: Adulterers Could Get Life Sentence

By: Tony Tagliavia Email
By: Tony Tagliavia Email

(A link to the court decision appears below.)

If you're unfaithful to your spouse in Michigan, you could land in prison for life.

"It's a lot of time for somebody to be put away for a mistake they might have made," Brenda DeLaCruz of Lansing said.

"Our court system has gotten into the family life," said Bob Utrup, who lives in Delta Township. "And sometimes, it doesn't know how to get back out."

The decision came from the Michigan Court of Appeals. A three-judge panel ruled that adultery can be considered criminal sexual conduct. That's because adultery is already a felony, and certain sex acts committed while a felony is taking place amount to first degree criminal sexual conduct.

A conviction on that charge includes a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Anthony Flores went after criminals for years in as an assistant prosecuting attorney in Ingham County. He says it's unlikely that police would seek out such cases. And what's even more improbable?

"The likelihood that a prosecutor would seek to find a conviction in front of a jury on adultery," Flores said.

Now an associate professor at Cooley Law School, Flores says Michigan has plenty of outdated laws.

"There's one, seduction of an unmarried woman, which would be quite the felony to prosecute," he said.

But we wondered, what if a spouse came to police or the prosecutor's office with proof of adultery.

Since it's a felony, couldn't they demand charges be filed?

"The prosecutor has discretion ... as to which laws are still considered legally up-to-date," Flores said.

Meaning despite the law, you're not likely to see someone sentenced to life in prison for adultery anytime soon.

Court of Appeals Decision in People v. Waltonen


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