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Criminal Sexual Conduct 1st vs. 3rd Degree: What’s the Difference?

According to statistics, an American is sexually assaulted every 73 seconds. Worst of all, for every 9  minutes, the victim is usually a minor and that only five out of a thousand sex offenders end up serving  jail or prison terms. Generally, a defendant remains innocent until proven guilty, so if you are facing a  sex crime charge, it is essential to seek legal representation by an experienced sex crime attorney immediately.

In Michigan, seeking legal assistance when charged with a criminal sexual conduct charge is indispensable, given the severity of sex crime consequences. The Michigan Criminal Sexual Conduct Law  establishes four categories under which sex crimes fall. Each of the categories represents different levels  of criminal sexual conduct. Each level is referred to as a ‘degree.’ The different degrees of criminal sexual  conduct attract penalties with varying severity, and some are lifelong consequences. In this article, we  look at first-degree and third-degree criminal sexual conduct and how they differ.

First-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct

First-degree criminal sexual conduct is the worst charge a sexual offender can face. It involves sexual  penetration. Some examples of penetrations are entry into: Penis/vagina, penis/oral, penis/anal, etc. First Degree Criminal Sexual conduct may involve penetration with a minor, below thirteen (13) years

old, thirteen (13) to sixteen (16) years old or as an adult with additional facts at issue. First Degree  Criminal Sexual Conduct may involve other circumstances that fit the elements of First Degree Criminal  Sexual Conduct. Your Michigan criminal sexual conduct lawyer can explain to you the circumstances in detail, but  generally, the perpetrator’s actions define the charge, and they can include:

  • Sexual penetration of a child under the age of 13, commonly termed as rape
  • Sexual penetration of a minor aged between 13 and 16 and either:
    • A member of your family.
    • A person over whom you hold authority and could use it to coerce sexual penetration.
    • The actor is related by blood or affinity to the fourth degree.
    • A member of the same household as the actor.
    • The actor is a teacher, substitute teacher, or administrator of the public school, nonpublic school, school district, or intermediate school district in which that other  person is enrolled.
    • The actor is an employee or a contractual service provider of the public school, nonpublic school, school district, or intermediate school district in which that other  person is enrolled, or is a volunteer who is not a student in any public school or  nonpublic school, or is an employee of this state or of a local unit of government of this  state or of the United States assigned to provide any service to that public school, nonpublic school, school district, or intermediate school district, and the actor uses his  or her employee, contractual, or volunteer status to gain access to, or to establish a  relationship with, that other person.
  • The actor is armed with a weapon or any article used or fashioned in a manner to lead the victim to reasonably believe it to be a weapon.
  • The actor causes personal injury to the victim and force or coercion is used to accomplish sexual
  • Sexual penetration of a physically or mentally challenged person, either by use of coercion or the assistance of one or more people
  • Sexual penetration of a person while in possession of a weapon or any other object that the victim has reason to believe is a weapon or can be used as a weapon
  • Sexual penetration while committing another offense
  • The actor causes personal injury to the victim, and the actor knows or has reason to know that the victim is mentally incapable, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless.
  • That other person is mentally incapable, mentally disabled, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless, and any of the following:
    • The actor is related to the victim by blood or affinity to the fourth degree.
    • The actor is in a position of authority over the victim and used this authority to coerce the victim to submit.

A Conviction for First-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct

Since first-degree criminal sexual conduct is the most severe sexual offense, it attracts severe  consequences, including imprisonment, and can even be a lifetime sentence. However, some specific  circumstances have specific sentencing requirements. For instance:

If the perpetrator was at least 17 years of age at the time the offense was committed and the victim was  under 13 years, the Michigan criminal sexual conduct law requires that the defendant serves a minimum  sentence of 25 years

The general consequences for first-degree criminal sexual conduct, however, include:

  • A long prison term that can be up to life imprisonment
  • Lifetime electronic monitoring
  • Hefty court fines
  • A permanent registration under the sex offenders registration act (SORA)
  • Revocation or denial of professional licenses, including licenses to provide legal services, teaching, or any other profession
  • Loss of employment or inability to secure employment in future
  • Denial of child custody rights
  • Deportation for non-US citizens or denial of immigration documents

Criminal Defense Lawyer Nicole Blank Becker

 

Third-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct

Third-degree criminal sexual conduct constitutes a sexual crime against a person and is even often referred to as statutory rape. Unlike the charge of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, where the  complainant claims they were offended and could even be the person pressing charges, third-degree  criminal sexual conduct can be charged by the state even where the complainant of the sexual  penetration doesn’t feel wronged. The complainant may have engaged in sexual relations with the  defendant intentionally and willingly. Still, the Michigan Criminal Sexual Conduct Laws can find a crime  has been committed by solely looking at the age of the complainant.

The state will charge you with third-degree criminal sexual conduct if you engage in sexual penetration  under the following circumstances:

  • Penetration of a minor aged 13 to 15 years old
  • Penetration of a person whom you know or have reason to know is mentally incapable, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless
  • That other person is related to the actor by blood or affinity to the third degree and the sexual penetration occurs
  • Sexual penetration achieved using force or coercion
  • That other person is at least 16 years of age but less than 18 years of age and a student at a public school or nonpublic school, and either of the following applies:
    • The actor is a teacher, substitute teacher, or administrator of that public school, nonpublic school, school district, or intermediate school district. This subparagraph does  not apply if the other person is emancipated or if both persons are lawfully married to  each other at the time of the alleged violation.
    • The actor is an employee or a contractual service provider of the public school, nonpublic school, school district, or intermediate school district in which that other  person is enrolled, or is a volunteer who is not a student in any public school or  nonpublic school, or is an employee of this state or of a local unit of government of this  state or of the United States assigned to provide any service to that public school,  nonpublic school, school district, or intermediate school district, and the actor uses his  or her employee, contractual, or volunteer status to gain access to, or to establish a  relationship with, that other person.
  • That other person is at least 16 years old but less than 26 years of age and is receiving special education services, and either of the following applies:
    • The actor is a teacher, substitute teacher, administrator, employee, or contractual service provider of the public school, nonpublic school, school district, or intermediate  school district from which that other person receives the special education services.
      • This subparagraph does not apply if both persons are lawfully married to each other at the time of the alleged violation.
    • The actor is a volunteer who is not a student in any public school or nonpublic school, or is an employee of this state or of a local unit of government of this state or of the United  States assigned to provide any service to that public school, nonpublic school, school  district, or intermediate school district, and the actor uses his or her employee,  contractual, or volunteer status to gain access to, or to establish a relationship with, that  other person.
  • The actor is an employee, contractual service provider, or volunteer of a child care organization, or a person licensed to operate a foster family home or a foster family group home, in which  that other person is a resident, that other person is at least 16 years of age, and the sexual  penetration occurs during that other person’s residency. As used in this subdivision, “child care  organization”, “foster family home”, and “foster family group home” mean those terms as  defined in section 1 of 1973 PA 116, MCL 722.111.

A Conviction for Third-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct

Although third-degree criminal sexual conduct maybe considered statutory rape, it does not have as lengthy a prison sentence as does first-degree criminal sexual conduct. It, however, has life-altering  consequences that are close to First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct. They include:

  • Maximum imprisonment for up to 15 years
  • Hefty court fines

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