Sex Crimes in Michigan: Penetration vs. Touching
Michigan criminal sexual conduct law strictly prohibits specific behavior related to sexual activity. These series of laws collectively known as criminal sexual conduct charges (CSC) 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, sex crimes or criminal sexual conduct are categorized into four different degrees and those found in violation of these laws attract different penalties. The different degrees of sex crimes or criminal sexual conduct charges, for example, explains the difference in treatment of sex offenses associated with penetration or associated with touching. Under Michigan criminal sexual conduct law, sexual assault crimes involving “penetration” falls under the first or third degree criminal sexual conduct charges while “touching” falls under the second and fourth degree criminal sexual conduct charges. We 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 act to qualify as a sex crime. A criminal sexual conduct sexual assault involving “penetration” falls under both:
FIRST DEGREE CSC & THIRD DEGREE CSC:
This criminal sexual conduct level requires some type of sexual 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
This criminal sexual conduct level 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 sexual 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 Contact” / “Touching” under Michigan Law?
“Sexual contact” is the intentional touching of the accused’s intimate parts or the clothing covering the person’s intimate parts, including the inner thigh, breast, groin, buttocks, etc.
Sexual contact is different from any other kind of contact because it’s intentional and done for sexual purposes only. A sexual assault involving “sexual contact” falls under both criminal sexual conduct:
SECOND DEGREE CSC & FOURTH DEGREE CSC:
- 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:
– 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, nonpublic school, school district, or intermediate school district in which that other person is enrolled
- The accuser is at least 13 years of age but less than 16 years of age, and the suspect is 5 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
- Related to the suspect by blood or affinity to the third degree
The 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 Criminal Sexual Conduct charge or a Fourth Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct 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 criminal sexual conduct. Note, the girl’s consent doesn’t matter; age is the only determining factor for the accused’s criminal sexual conduct charge.
The Accuser’s Mental State
Sexual contact with an accuser who’s physically or mentally disabled also falls under fourth degree criminal sexual contact. Under Michigan law, 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 from fiction
- The accuser may have been asleep, unconscious, or unable to communicate physically their consent to the act
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.
The Different Penalties for Sexual “Penetration” and “Touching” Under Michigan Laws
The main differences between the two criminal sexual conduct sex offenses lie in the penalties awarded:
If the offense lies under the first degree criminal sexual conduct the 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 offenders remain on the Michigan Sex Offender Registry for life, Tier 3. Also, the offender must verify this information 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, the offender is facing up to 15 years in prison, a mandatory-minimum sentence in prison and placed on the Michigan’s Sex Offender Registry for life, Tier 3. This means the offender remains in the public registry for life unless they qualify to get off from the registry early. Also, the offender must verify this information four times every year.
If the offense lies under the second degree criminal sexual conduct the offender is facing up to 15 years in prison and placed on the Michigan’s Sex Offender Registry for 25-lifetime, Tier 2 or 3. Also, the offender must verify this information two or four times every year.
If the offense lies under the fourth degree criminal sexual conduct the offender is facing up to 2 years in prison and placed on the Michigan’s Sex Offender Registry for 15 years/ 25years or lifetime, Tier 1, 2 or 3. Also, the offender must verify this information one, two or four times every year.
Enlist the Help of an Experienced Criminal Sexual Conduct Attorney
While all the above crimes involve sexual misconduct, the legal ramifications vary. For example, a criminal sexual conduct associated with sexual penetration is even 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 13-16 years old there are mandatory-minimums that exist that only a skilled defense attorney will know how to handle.
Finding a lawyer who can differentiate between the four sex offenses is critical to getting a fair trial. Attorney Nicole Blank Becker is that attorney 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.
Call us today or fill out the contact form for a free consultation.