CSC 4th Degree Michigan: What You Need to Know
In Michigan, no sex crime is minor. Every sex related crime, including criminal sexual conduct 4th degree, carries very stiff penalties.
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.
Criminal sexual conduct is a term which refers to a set of sex crimes, including what is statutory rape and child molestation, that are categorized into four CSC degrees. The charges vary significantly depending upon the alleged conduct.
Punishments for any of the four degrees of Michigan criminal sexual conduct may include imprisonment and the possibility of being placed on the sex ofender registration, i.e. Michigan Sex Offender Registry.
A striking feature of fourth degree CSC is that it only covers ‘sexual contact.’ If sex crime allegations of what is sexual penetration arises, the charge will fall into either criminal sexual conduct 1st degree or criminal sexual conduct 3rd degree.
Criminal sexual conduct in the fourth degree has a lot of similarities in facts with criminal sexual conduct 2nd degree. However, there are also certain clear lines of differences between them.
In Michigan, when a person is charged with criminal sexual conduct fourth degree, the burden of proof lies on the government who must prove that unwanted sexual touching occurred 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 when some form of sexual contact occurs.
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.
The accused can be found guilty of CSC 4th degree if the alleged victim believes that the intentional touching was being done in one of the following circumstances:
1. For the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification
2. For a sexual purpose
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 that is done for sexual purposes or could reasonably be construed as having been done for sexual purposes.
With that said, not all touching intended to derive sexual pleasure is illegal. Adults who have attained the legal age (see what is the age of consent in Michigan) are allowed to engage in consensual sexual contact. There are, however, exceptions to this, which takes the contact out of the boundaries of the law and makes it qualify for criminal sexual conduct in the 4th degree. The CSC 4th degree Michigan penalty will see a person convicted face up to two years in prison.
CSC 4th Degree Michigan
The factors that can turn sexual contact to criminal sexual conduct fourth degree include:
- Age of the Alleged Victim: If you engage in contact sexually with a person who is or above the age of 13, but not yet 16, or if you are five years older than that person, then you have committed criminal sexual conduct fourth degree.
An example of this would be if a 21-year old man touches the buttocks of a 15-year old girl and there is no other visibly reasonable explanation available other than to derive sexual pleasure, he is guilty of fourth degree criminal sexual conduct.
In this case, the girl’s consent does not matter. The age is singularly enough to establish the accused party’s guilt.
- Family Ties: If you make contact sexually with a person you are related to either by blood ties or affinity to the third degree, then you have committed fourth degree criminal sexual conduct.
An example of this would be if an uncle touched his niece in a sexual way.
- Mental or Physical State of the Alleged Victim: Sexual contact with an alleged victim that has a mental or physical disability or mental incapacity is considered fourth degree criminal sexual conduct.
Terminologies used to describe the alleged victim in such an instance include:
- Mentally Incapable: This means that the victim has a mental condition that strips them of the capability to understand the physical and moral nature of their conduct.
- Mentally Disabled: This means the victim has a mental problem so weighty that they cannot distinguish reality from fiction.
- Mentally Incapacitated: This 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: This means the victim was unconscious, asleep, or unable to communicate physically their consent to the act.
- Force or Coercion: In Michigan, criminal sexual conduct in the 4th degree has occurred when sexual contact happens under circumstances where physical force or the threat of physical violence was used to make the contact happen.
Hence, if you accomplish sexual contact through any of the means included in the definition of force or coercion, you may be guilty of 4th degree CSC. For instance, if you drag someone to an isolated area and you grab their breast, buttocks, or genitals, that would qualify.
There is also emphasis put on power relationships or abuse of relationships, such as:
- A teacher, substitute teacher, or any contractual service provider of a school district with students/students receiving special education services
- Mental Health Professional: Contact sexually with a patient within a period of two years after the client-patient medical treatment relationship has ended amounts to 4th degree CSC. This covers therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists, etc.
- Child Care Organization, Foster Family Home, Foster Family Group Home, etc.
Punishment for a Crime of Fourth Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct
The penalties for conviction of this criminal sexual conduct charge are the least severe out of all the four degrees of CSC.
The charge of criminal sexual conduct in the fourth degree is a misdemeanor crime. If convicted of it, you may be sentenced by imprisonment for not more than two years, a fine of not more than $500, or both, per MCL 750.520e.
Get an Attorney!
Defending a fourth degree CSC allegation can be an uphill and highly demanding battle as people, unfortunately, are quick to assume that you are guilty with only an accusation. Hence, you are advised to contact an experienced Michigan criminal defense lawyer as soon as you find out you are being accused or are under investigation.
Fourth degree criminal sexual conduct cases in Michigan can be tacky to defend, so do not put your fate in the hands of an inexperienced attorney. The right sex offender lawyers will help you navigate the most viable criminal sexual assault defense strategies and argue them out to the court in the most compelling way in order to get you off the noose.
Hire Blank Law, PC to Work for You!
If you are under investigation or charged with criminal sexual conduct 4th degree, or any other sexual assault crime, you need the best criminal sexual conduct attorney by your side. Nicole Blank Becker of Blank Law, PC is as experienced of a criminal sexual conduct defense attorney as you will get, with over two decades of sexual assault law practice to show for it.
During her lengthy career, Nicole has served as the Chief of the Sex Crimes Unit in Macomb County, prior to going into private practice. Her experiences put her in a league of her own when it comes to criminal sexual conduct charges.
Nicole will use her knowledge and experience to aggressively fight for you. Additionally, she understands the importance of the attorney-client relationship and aims to build a strong one with her clients to ensure that they do not feel stigmatized based on their charges. Rest assured that all confidential or sensitive information shared with her will remain completely private.