Misdemeanor Sex Crimes: Everything You Need to Know
Generally, most crimes, including sex crimes, are classified as misdemeanors or felonies, depending on their severity. Misdemeanors are lesser crimes compared to felonies, and are usually punishable by a maximum jail sentence of 12 months. State laws may differ regarding which criminal offenses may be categorized as misdemeanors, however they typically include crimes like petty theft, assault, battery, and indecent exposure.
A felony is the most severe criminal offense and is usually punishable by an imprisonment term of one year or more. In some states, certain felonies may even attract the death penalty. Felonies typically involve serious physical harm to the victim or fraud, in some cases. Examples of felonies include arson, murder, burglary, rape (see what is statutory rape), or kidnapping. Also, people who have been charged with a misdemeanor before may be charged with a felony as second-time offenders.
Furthermore, in some states, some crimes may be categorized as misdemeanors or felonies depending on the circumstances. For example, crimes involving injury or damage to property may be classified as misdemeanors or felonies depending on the severity of the injury or value of the property. Such crimes differ per circumstances.
Sex crime cases are all felonies, except for criminal sexual conduct (CSC) in the forth degree. Although it is a misdemeanor, it is treated as a felony in the courts. If you or your family member is involved in a sex crime case, you need to contact an attorney as soon as possible. A sex crime conviction can attract harsh punishments and affect your life negatively for a long time, even if it is a misdemeanor. Contact Blank Law, PC for expert criminal defense representation today.
Misdemeanor Sex Crimes
If you have been charged with a sex crime, you must determine whether it is a felony or misdemeanor. Most sex crimes are categorized as felonies because of how serious they are; however, there are also misdemeanor sex crimes. These include, but are not limited to, solicitation of prostitution and prostitution, child molestation, lewd conduct, indecent exposure, disorderly conduct, and sexual battery.
- Solicitation of a Prostitute and Prostitution
Paying someone or granting some form of compensation in exchange for sexual gratification is a crime in many states. Also, the activities inciting a person to engage in any sexual act for money or compensation are illegal. Wondering what is the charge for soliciting a prostitute and prostitution? They are both misdemeanors.
First-time offenders convicted of prostitution or soliciting a prostitute in Michigan may serve a jail term of 93 days, a fine of up to $500, or both. Second-time offenders may be sentenced to jail for up to one year, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. Subsequent convictions may attract a prison term of up to two years, a fine of up to $2,000, or both.
- Child Molestation
Molesting a child is seen as a form of criminal sexual conduct (CSC) in Michigan. It may be classified as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the circumstances of the case (see CSC degrees). It includes actions like offensive touching, fondling, displaying explicit material relating to sexual conduct, exposing genitals, sexual penetration (see what is sexual penetration), and intercourse involving a minor. The penalty for molesting a child often depends on the severity of the offense.
- Lewd Conduct
Lewd conduct refers to any sexual act that is offensive to the standards of public decency. A person may be prosecuted for lewd conduct even though the improper action is not necessarily illegal. It includes groping, sexual contact with another person, and exposing one’s genitals in public. Lewd conduct may also be called dissolute conduct. It is punishable by a jail sentence not exceeding one year, a fine, community service, and/or probation.
- Indecent Exposure
Indecent exposure is committed when a person displays private body parts in public. It includes public nudity, urinating in public, and “flashing.” A person may also be charged with indecent exposure while having car sex in public (see is car sex a crime). Indecent exposure may even be committed accidentally. It is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, a jail term of up to one year, or both.
In some situations, indecent exposure may be aggravated. For example, where the offensive act occurs in the presence of a minor, the offender may be charged with aggravated indecent exposure. Other examples include publicly displaying one’s genitals, pubic area, breasts, or other private parts. Aggravated indecent exposure attracts a prison term of up to two years, a fine of up to $2,000, or both.
- Sexual Battery
Sexual battery may also be known as criminal sexual contact. It involves touching another person for sexual gratification or arousal without their consent (see what is offensive touching). Sexual battery may be committed when someone touches another person’s genitals, breasts, anus, or buttocks. It may also occur if the sexual act does not involve penetration or intercourse. The penalty for sexual battery includes a $3,000 fine, a jail term not exceeding one year, and probation of up to five years.
Penalties for Misdemeanor Sex Crime Charges
Sex crimes attract strict punishment, and a conviction can have a lasting negative impact on the offender. Most sex crimes typically involve victims, but, in some cases, misdemeanor sex offenses may be victimless. Such sex crimes are also punishable under law. Examples of victimless sex crimes include pandering, prostitution, pimping, soliciting a prostitute, lewd conduct, and indecent exposure.
As you can see above, the penalty of a sex crime charge often includes a jail term, a fine, probation, and community service. Where the sex crime is considered a misdemeanor, the punishment is usually a jail term of up to one year, a $1,000 fine, or both for a first-time offender. For second-time offenders, the penalty is stricter. Offenders may be sentenced to a prison term of up to two years, a $2,000 fine, or both. For subsequent offenses, the offender may be charged with a felony, depending on the circumstances of the case.
Will You Be Required to Register as a Sex Offender for a Sex Crime?
Registration is compulsory for people who have been convicted of a sex crime. Any person guilty of a misdemeanor sex crime must register as a sex offender in Michigan, i.e. the Michigan Sex Offender Registry. Failure to register as a sex offender is a serious criminal offense with severe punishment. This crime is considered a felony, and it attracts an imprisonment term not exceeding four years.
The sex offender registry maintains the records available to the public. Such records include, but are not limited to, information about the offender’s date of birth, picture, physical features, address, details of the offense, and employment details. This registration can hurt the lives of the offenders. It can tarnish their reputations, limit their chances of finding gainful employment, and/or cost them their licenses for those engaged in professional occupations.
In some cases, offenders may be allowed to erase their records from the registry (see expungement laws in Michigan). The severity of the offense determines the duration of registration. For misdemeanour sex crimes, the offenders usually have a temporary record with the registry. They may be allowed to erase their records after 15 years in Michigan.
Defenses to Misdemeanor Sex Crimes
If you have been falsely accused of CSC or another sex offense, a good criminal defense attorney can advise you on the best and available legal sexual assault defense strategies. An example of such defense is consent on the victim’s part. Most sex crime cases require consent for any sexual act to be legal. Thus, where consent is needed, and you can establish that the victim consented to the act, it may serve as a valid defense.
Another defense is where there is insufficient evidence. The prosecution must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt to secure a conviction. Thus, where the evidence against you is not enough, it may serve as a valid defense against the charges. Also, where you have an alibi that does not fix you to the crime scene, you may be able to use it as a defense against a misdemeanor sex offense charge.
Do You Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Michigan to Beat Sex Crime Charges?
A sex crime charge, even for a misdemeanor offense, is pretty severe, and a conviction can have a long-lasting adverse effect on your life. You also risk jail time, paying a fine, and mandatory registration as a sexual offender.
Criminal defense attorneys are trained to develop aggressive defense strategies to help their clients fight the charges against them. Therefore, you need to hire a top criminal sexual conduct attorney to improve your chances of avoiding jail or other punishment. An experienced criminal defense attorney will guide you through the complexities of the criminal justice system and advise you on the best legal defenses.
Hire Blank Law, PC
Attorney Nicole Blank Becker is a top Michigan criminal sexual conduct attorney specializing in sex crimes. If you or your loved one have been charged with a misdemeanor or felony sex offense, she can evaluate your case and advise you on the legal defenses available. As a former criminal prosecutor, Nicole can also help you create a solid defense tactic to beat the charges against you. Contact her at (248) 515-6583 for a free consultation today.