Charged with a sex crime or criminal sexual conduct?
If you are or anyone you love is facing charges for a sex crime, it is critical that you have an experienced criminal sexual conduct defense attorney diligently working to fight the charges against you.
In the State of Michigan, there is one term used to define a host of illegal sexual conduct legally. What we think of as “rape” or “molestation” or “assault” is called criminal sexual conduct in the State of Michigan. While most people think of rape as the forcible penetration of an unwilling victim, Michigan law recognizes a continuum of sexual activity to be illegal in specifically outlined situations.
Therefore, in Michigan criminal courts you will not hear the term “rape” or “molestation” used as a legal term. The terms “child rape” and “date rape” and “statutory rape” can be used to describe prohibited sexual conduct more specifically. Michigan legislature has 4 degrees of criminal sexual conduct that encompass all of these terms and more.
Because of a discrepancy between what someone might think is rape and what Michigan law defines as rape – or first degree criminal sexual conduct – it can be helpful to look at the definition given in Michigan Penal Code section 750.520 and how terms such as “sexual penetration” are defined.
You might be surprised to know that the State of Michigan defines penetration this way:
Sexual penetration means:
- Sexual intercourse
- Anal intercourse.
- Any intrusion of a body part, no matter how slight, into any part of a person’s body
- Any intrusion, no matter how slight, of any object into the genital or anal openings of another person’s body
- The emission of semen does not have to happen to prove penetration.
This definition is much broader than you might expect when you hear the term “rape.” For instance, if you are accused of date rape for actions you thought were consensual and short of actual intercourse, you may be facing a first degree criminal sexual conduct charge if the person says they were coerced into this sexual contact.
Do you need a criminal sexual conduct lawyer?
Criminal Sexual Conduct in Michigan
First degree CSC and third degree CSC in Michigan involve “penetration.” Second and fourth degree CSC involves sexual contact without penetration.
Here is an overview of how criminal sexual conduct in the first degree is defined in Michigan:
“Sexual penetration” – as defined above – under the following circumstances:
- The victim is under 13 years of age.
- The victim is between 13 and 16, and any of the following things happen:
- The defendant lives in the same house as the victim.
- The defendant is related to the victim – it doesn’t have to be by blood, it can be by marriage.
- In addition, the defendant has a position of authority over the victim and used this authority to gain access to or coerce the victim to submit. Authority in this context means teacher, pastor, priest, child care worker, foster parent, etc.
- The sexual penetration in question happens when the defendant is in the midst of committing another felony
- The defendant uses one or more partners to achieve sexual penetration of the victim
- The defendant knows or has reason to know the victim is:
- Mentally incapable (of consenting to sexual penetration)
- Mentally incapacitated
- Physically helpless
- The defendant uses force or coercion. This includes threatening to use force, and the victim believes it. It also includes threats of retaliation or using the element of surprise.
- The defendant has or seems to have a weapon or anything that can be used as a weapon. If the victim has a reasonable belief, it will be used as a weapon.
- The defendant causes injury to the victim while using force or coercion to achieve sexual penetration.
- Additionally, the defendant uses treatment or examination in a manner found to be medically unethical or unacceptable to achieve sexual penetration.
A Few Things Become Clear
Once we see how Michigan law defines “penetration,” a few things become clear. While it’s true that this charge could describe some of the most extreme types of sexual behavior against some of the most vulnerable people, it can also be used to define sexual behavior that is significantly short of sexual intercourse. Furthermore, victims do not have to be beaten or physically forced for something to be determined by the law as rape.
Penalties for First and Third Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct
Third Degree CSC is defined very similarly to First Degree CSC in Michigan law, with some crucial distinctions. The difference between them is the penalty for each. First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct is a felony, as is Third Degree CSC.
For a First Degree conviction, an offender may expect to face:
- Up to Life in Prison, depending on a variety of factors
- Lifetime Electronic Monitoring
- Lifetime Registration on the Sex Offender Registry
Criminal Sexual Conduct, third degree, is also a felony. It is punishable by 15 years in prison.
Criminal Sexual Conduct in the Second Degree and Criminal Sexual Conduct in the Fourth Degree
Second degree CSC differs in that it describes behavior called “sexual contact.” According to Michigan State Law, sexual contact is defined this way:
“Sexual contact” includes:
- The intentional or forced touching of the victim’s or defendant’s intimate parts
- The intentional or forced touching of the clothing covering the immediate area of the victim’s or actor’s intimate parts. The touching must reasonably be construed to be for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification.
- Intentional or forced touching
- Done for a sexual purpose
- In a sexual manner for
- to inflict humiliation or
- out of anger.
Second Degree CSC is defined as “sexual contact” under the same conditions as those in First degree CSC. Criminal sexual conduct in the second degree is classified as a felony. It is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and mandatory registry as a sex offender. Fourth Degree CSC is the only charge classified as a misdemeanor. It is defined as “sexual contact” under the following circumstances:
- The victim is between 13 and 16, and the actor is 5 or years older
- The Defendant uses Force or coercion, including
- Physical force or violence
- Threats, including threats of retaliation
- The Defendant uses medically unrecognized treatment or examination of the victim
- The Defendant uses concealment or surprise
- The victim is
- mentally incapable,
- mentally incapacitated or
- physically helpless
- The Defendant is related to the victim or uses a position of authority over the victim
- The Defendant is a teacher of the victim or another type of employee of the school
- In addition, the Defendant is a child care worker or foster parent
Fourth Degree CSC is punishable by up to 2 years in prison and/or up to $500 in fines.
Defending You From Lifelong Consequences of Criminal Sexual Conduct
Receiving a rape accusation or charge is a life-altering event. Criminal sexual conduct lawyer David J. Kramer has the skills, determination, and intelligence it takes to defend your rights against criminal sexual conduct charges in the State of Michigan.
The ramifications of a CSC conviction can potentially span the rest of your life because three out of the four charges involve mandatory registration on the Sex Offender Registry. Also, a sex offender status carries a stigma you may never outlive.
David J. Kramer has experience with CSC charges and will work diligently to get your charges thrown out or reduced or to seek an acquittal at trial. Overall, criminal sexual conduct charges are grave in the eyes of Michigan law. You should entrust your future to an attorney who takes those charges as seriously as you do.
Let’s start fighting for your freedom.