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Fourth Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct in Michigan: Everything You Need to Know

In Michigan, no sex crime is minor. Every sex related crime including fourth degree criminal sexual conduct carries very stiff penalties ranging from entering the sex offender registry to jail term. Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC) is a term which refers to a set of sex crimes, including rape, statutory rape and child molestation, and are categorized into four degrees.  Punishments for any of the four degrees of Michigan sex crimes may include imprisonment and the possibility of being placed on Michigan’s sex offender registry.


Criminal sexual conduct in the fourth degree has a lot of similarities in facts with criminal sexual conduct in the second degree. However, there are also certain clear lines of differences between them.


CSC 4th Degree Lawyer


What does 4th degree CSC entail?

Michigan law prohibits certain types of behavior related to sexual activity. These series of laws are collectively known as “criminal sexual conduct” or CSC charges. The charges vary significantly depending upon the alleged conduct. A striking feature of 4th degree CSC is that it only covers ‘sexual contact’. If an allegation is of ‘sexual penetration’, the charge will fall into criminal sexual conduct in either the first or third degree.


In Michigan, where a person is charged with Fourth Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct, the burden of proof lies on the government who must prove this fact beyond a reasonable doubt.


The significance of “sexual contact”

You should know that there is a clear line of difference between ‘sexual contact’ and ‘sexual penetration’. Every Fourth Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct case is based on some form of “sexual contact.”


‘Sexual contact’ includes; the intentional touching of the victim’s or actor’s intimate parts or the intentional touching of the clothing covering the immediate area of the victim’s or actor’s inner thigh, buttocks, breast, groin or other intimate parts, if that intentional touching can reasonably be construed as being (1) for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification, (2) done for a sexual purpose, or (3) in a sexual manner for revenge, to inflict humiliation, or out of anger.


“Sexual contact” differs from every other types of “contact” because it involves deliberate touching which is done for sexual purposes or which could reasonably be construed as having been done for sexual purposes.


However, not all touching intended to derive sexual pleasure is illegal. Adults who have attained the legal age are allowed to engage in consensual sexual contact. There are exceptions to this, which takes the sexual contact out of the boundaries of the law, makes the contact qualify for criminal sexual conduct in the 4th degree and makes a person liable to up to 2 years in Prison. The factors which can turn “sexual contact to 4th Degree CSC include;


  • Age of the alleged victim: If you engage in sexual contact with a person who is or above the age of 13 but not yet 16 years of age or if you are 5 years older than that person, then you have committed CSC in the 4th For instance, if a 21 year old man touches the buttocks of a 15 year old girl which no other visibly reasonable explanation available other than to derive sexual pleasure, he is guilty of 4th degree CSC.


In this case, the girl’s consent does not matter. The Age is singularly enough to establish the accused’s guilt.


  • Family Ties: If you make sexual contact with a person you are related to either by blood ties or affinity to the third degree, then you have committed 4th degree CSC. For instance, an uncle touching his niece in a sexual way etc.
  • The Alleged victim’s Mental or physical state: sexual contact with an alleged victim with mental or physical disability or incapacity is 4th degree CSC.


Terminologies used to describe the victim in such instance include;

  • Mentally incapable which means that the victim has a mental condition that strips them off the capability to understand the physical and moral nature of their conduct.
  • Mentally disabled which means the victim has a mental problem so weighty that they cannot distinguish reality from fiction.
  • Mentally incapacitated which means the victim was in a state where they were unable to understand what they were doing because of drugs or alcohol given to them.
  • Physically helpless which means the victim was unconscious, asleep, or unable to communicate physically his/her consent to the act.
  • The Element of Force or coercion: In Michigan, CSC in the fourth degree has happened when sexual contact happens under circumstances where force or coercion was used to make the contact happen.


Hence, if you accomplish sexual contact through any of the means included in the definition of force/coercion, you might be guilty of 4th degree CSC. For instance, if you drag someone to an isolated area and you grab their breast, buttocks or genitals.


Other factors include;

  • Students and Teachers / Special education students.
  • Mental Health Professionals: Sexual contact with a patient within a period of two after the client/ patient relationship has ended amounts to 4th degree CSC. This covers Therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists etc.
  • Child Care Organizations, Foster Homes etc.

Fourth Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct

Punishment for a crime of 4th degree CSC

The penalties for conviction of this charge are the least severe out of all the four degree of charges. The charge of criminal sexual conduct in the fourth degree is a misdemeanor. If convicted for it, you may be may be sentenced by imprisonment for not more than 2 years or a fine of not more than $500.00, or both. MCL 750.520e

Getting the right attorney

Representation in a 4th degree CSC allegation can be uphill and highly demanding as people easily your guilt once you are accused. Hence, you are advised to contact an experienced Michigan sex crimes lawyer.

4th degree CSC cases in Michigan can be tacky to defend, so do not put your fate in the hands of an inexperienced attorney. The right attorney will help you navigate the most viable defense and argue them out to the court in the most compelling way to get you off the noose.

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