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Michigan Sex Crimes: Penetration vs. Touching

Michigan criminal sexual conduct (CSC) law strictly prohibits specific behavior related to sexual activity. These series of laws, collectively known as CSC charges vary significantly based on the accused’s alleged conduct. The state formulated the laws to distinguish the degrees of sexual misconduct as some sex crimes are more heinous, in certain contexts, than others.

As such, Michigan sex crime charges are categorized into four different CSC degrees, and those found in violation of these laws attract different criminal penalties.

The different degrees of sex crimes explains the difference in treatment of sex offenses associated with what is sexual penetration or sexual touching. Under Michigan law, sexual assault crimes involving “penetration” falls under what is criminal sexual conduct 1st degree or 3rd degree, while “touching” falls under the 2nd and 4th degree CSC charges.

Michigan Sex Crimes

Let’s now take a deeper look at the differences between the crimes:

What is Sexual Penetration under the Michigan Law?

“Penetration” is defined as penis/vagina, anal intercourse, cunnilingus, or other intrusions of any part of the accuser’s body or any object into the genital or anal opening of the body. Note, there does not need to be an emission of semen for the sexual act to qualify as a Michigan sex crime. A CSC sexual assault involving “penetration” falls under both first degree and thrid degree CSC.

★    Criminal Sexual Conduct 1st Degree

This CSC level requires some type of penetration, as explained above. It’s considered a crime in Michigan if penetration AND any of the following occur:

  • The accuser is below 13 years old
  • The suspect used a weapon
  • The suspect caused personal injury to the accuser
  • The suspect uses their position of authority to coerce the alleged victim to submit
  • The offender is related to the alleged victim by blood or affinity to the fourth degree
  • The acuser is a minor and incapacitated, mentally ill or helpless

★    Criminal Sexual Conduct 3rd Degree

This CSC level also requires some type of sexual penetration, as explained above. It’s considered a crime in Michigan if there was penetration AND any of the following occur:

  • The accuser is between 13 and 16 years old
  • The suspect knew the victim was mentally incapacitated or helpless at the time of penetration
  • The accuser is between ages 16 and 18 years and going to school where the suspect is a teacher, service provider, administrator, substitute teacher, or volunteer
  • The suspect and accuser are related by blood
  • The alleged victim is between 16 and 26 years and receiving special education from a teacher, substitute teacher, volunteer, administrator, a contract service provider, or volunteer

What is Sexual Touching under the Michigan Law?

“Touching” is defined as intentional contact of the accused’s intimate parts or the clothing covering the person’s intimate parts, including the inner thigh, breast, groin, buttocks, etc.

Sexual touching is different from any other kind of contact because it’s intentional and done for sexual purposes only. A sexual assault involving “sexual touching” falls under both second and fourth degree CSC.

★    Criminal Sexual Conduct 2nd Degree

This CSC level requires some type of sexual touching, as explained above. It’s considered a crime in Michigan if touching AND any of the following occur:

  • The accuser is under 13 years of age
  • The accuser is at least 13, but less than 16 years of age, and any of the following:
    • The suspect is a member of the same household as the victim
    • The suspect is related by blood or affinity to the fourth degree
  • The suspect is in a position of authority over the victim and the actor used this authority to coerce the accuser to submit
  • The suspect is a teacher, substitute teacher, or administrator of the public school, non-public school, school district, or intermediate school district in which that other person is enrolled

★    Criminal Sexual Conduct 4th Degree

This CSC level requires some type of sexual touching, as explained above. It’s considered a crime in Michigan if touching AND any of the following occur:

  • The accuser is at least 13, but less than 16 years of age, and the suspect is five or more years older than the accuser
  • Force or coercion is used to accomplish the sexual contact
  • The suspect knows or has reason to know that the acusser is mentally incapable, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless
  • The suspect is related to the accuser by blood or affinity to the third degree

Age of the Alleged Victim

The age of the accuser is important because it will make the difference between being charged with a second degree CSC charge or a fourth degree CSC charge.

For example, if a 21-year-old man touches the inner thigh of a 15-year-old girl for sexual pleasure, he can be charged with fourth degree CSC. Note, the girl’s consent doesn’t matter because she is under what is the age of consent in Michigan; age is the only determining factor for the accused’s CSC charge.

Mental State of the Alleged Victim

Sexual contact with an accuser who’s physically or mentally disabled also falls under fourth degree criminal sexual contact.

Under Michigan laws, mental incapacity takes on different forms:

  • The accuser may have a mental condition that reduces their ability to understand the physical or moral nature of their actions
  • The accuser’s mental incapacitation caused them not to understand what they were doing because of drugs or alcohol administered to their bodies
  • The accuser has a mental problem that reduces their ability to distinguish between reality and fiction
  • The accuser may have been asleep, unconscious, or unable to communicate physically their consent to the act

Family Ties to the Alleged Victim

If the accuser is related to the fourth degree to the suspect, the suspect committed fourth degree criminal sexual conduct by touching the accuser in a sexual way. For example, a father sexually touching his daughter, a step-father sexually touching his step-son, or an adopted mom sexually touching her adopted son.

Different Penalties for Sexual Penetration and Sexual Touching under the Michigan Laws

The main differences between the two criminal sexual conduct sex offenses lie in the criminal penalties awarded:

Sexual Penetration

If the offense lies under the first degree criminal sexual conduct guideline, the sex offender may get life imprisonment. Moreover, if a minor is involved, the defendant is required to face a mandatory-minimum sentence of 25 years in prison, as well as lifetime electronic monitoring. Such sex offenders remain on the Michigan Sex Offender Registry for life, and is calssified as what is a Tier 3 sex offender. Also, the sex offender must verify their information on the public sex offender registry, to Michigan State Police, four times every year.

Criminal Sexual Conduct Assault with Intent to Commit Sexual Penetration

If the offense lies under the third degree criminal sexual conduct guidelines, for example assault with intent to commit criminal sexual conduct, the offender is facing up to 15 years in prison, a mandatory-minimum sentence in prison, and is placed on the Michigan sex offender registration for life, i.e. Tier 3. This means the offender remains in the public sex offender registry for life unless they qualify to get off from the public sex offender registry early (find out how to get off the sex offender registry in Michigan here). Also, the offender must verify this information, to Michigan State Police, four times every year.

Sexual Contact

If the offense lies under the second degree criminal sexual conduct guidelines, the sex offender is facing up to 15 years in prison and will be placed on the Michigan Sex Offender Registry for 25 years to lifetime, i.e. what is a Tier 2 sex offender or Tier 3 sex offender. Also, the sex offender must verify their information on the public sex offender registry, to Michigan State Police, two to four times every year.

If the offense lies under the fourth degree criminal sexual conduct guidelines, the sex offender is facing up to two years in prison and will be placed on the Michigan Sex Offender Registry for 15 years, 25 years, or a lifetime, i.e. what is a Tier 1 sex offedner, Tier 2 sex offender, or Tier 3 sex offender. Also, the sex offender must verify their information on the public sex offender registry, to Michigan State Police, one, two, or four times every year.

Enlist the Help of an Experienced Sex Crimes Attorney

While all the above crimes involve sexual misconduct, the legal ramifications vary. For example, the penalty for a criminal sexual conduct associated with penetration is more severe in Michigan when a minor is involved, or when the criminal sexual conduct assault with intent to commit sexual penetration is being brought to the table, too.

When it comes to children under the age of 13 or between 13-16 years old, there are mandatory-minimums that exist that only a skilled defense attorney will know how to handle.

Finding defense attorneys who can differentiate between the four sex offenses is critical to getting a fair trial. Attorney Nicole Blank Becker is one of those few attorneys who is well versed in sex crimes and committed to performing at ther absolute best. You will not be let down with attorney Nicole Blank Becker on your side.

Nicole’s 20+ years of experience, thousands of jury trials under her belt, and her previous role as the Chief of the Sex Unit prove that she is capeable of handling any sex crime case, no matter if it’s child pornography, CSC, or even indecent exposure.

Nicole is sure to create an attorney-client relationship that is very strong and completely transparent to help put your mind at ease and ensures that your confidential or sensitive information is never leaked during these stressful times.

Contact attorney Nicole Blank Becker or call us at (248) 515-6583 for your free consultation.

3150 Livernois Rd. Suite 126
Troy, MI 48083
(248) 515-6583
law@nicoleblankbecker.com

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