In a ruling sure to make philandering spouses squirm, Michigan's second-highest court has said anyone involved in an extramarital fling can be prosecuted for first-degree criminal sexual conduct, a felony punishable by up to life in prison.
"We cannot help but question whether the Legislature actually intended the result we reach here today," Judge William Murphy wrote in November for a unanimous Court of Appeals panel.
"Technically, any time a person engages in sexual penetration in an adulterous relationship, he or she is guilty of CSC I," the most serious sexual assault charge in Michigan's criminal code.
No one expects prosecutors to declare open season on cheating spouses. The ruling is especially awkward for Attorney General Mike Cox, whose office triggered it by successfully appealing a lower court's decision to drop CSC charges against a Charlevoix defendant. In November 2005, Cox confessed to an adulterous relationship.
Murphy's opinion has since elicited reactions ranging from disbelief to mischievous giggling in the legal community. The ruling grows out of a case in which a Charlevoix man accused of trading Oxycontin pills for the sexual favors of a cocktail waitress was charged under an obscure provision of Michigan's criminal law, which decrees that a person is guilty of first-degree criminal sexual conduct whenever "sexual penetration occurs under circumstances involving the commission of any other felony."
The case made its way to the Court of Appeals, where Murphy and his colleagues noted that adultery is among the many crimes Michigan still recognizes as felonies. Chief Judge William Whitbeck said that Cox's confessed adultery never came up during the judges' discussions of the case.
From the Houston Chronicle