What is Considered Child Sexual Abuse?
The term child abuse usually refers to child maltreatment, or actions on the part of a parent or other adult that put the life of a child at risk. Child sexual abuse is not always the first thing that comes to mind when someone thinks of child abuse, but it’s a very common occurrence, even for a younger child. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 13 boys and 1 in 4 girls become victims of child sexual abuse before reaching 18.
Like most states, the state of Michigan does all it can to prevent child sexual abuse, and part of its strategy includes strict enforcement and harsh penalties. In Michigan, any sexual activity involving anyone under the age of 16 is considered child sexual abuse (see: what is the age of consent in Michigan), regardless of the circumstances.
What is Considered Child Sexual Abuse?
The state of Michigan has a firm rule that anyone under 16 is not considered old enough to give consent, no matter what the details are.
A common question we hear is: can criminal sexual abuse happen between two minors? If two minors engage in sexual activity, even if it was consensual from both parties and had nothing to do with sexual assaults or did not even involve physical contact, it is still technically child sexual abuse and a form of sexual violence.
Even something like two 15-year olds sending photos of a sexual nature to each other could be considered child sexual abuse, as these would be considered child pornography because of the ages of the individuals. That is also far from the only instance of abuse where physical contact is not necessary to commit a crime. Other examples can include sharing inappropriate sexual knowledge with young children or forcing them to watch you engage in sexual behavior.
Remember, if you are accused of sexual abuse of a minor, you need to make sure to get a quality team of sexual assault lawyers on the case. Prosecutors take child sexual abuse very seriously, and having the right defense lawyers is a must in order to find holes in their cases.
How are Child Sexual Abuse Cases Prosecuted?
In many cases, especially with a younger child, the victim either does not realize that they have become a victim of child sexual abuse or is too scared to come forward because the alleged aggressor has suggested they should not tell anyone what happened.
Parents and other adults are told to look for warning signs that something is not right with their child’s behavior. An example of classic warning signs would be a child’s uncle who repeatedly engages in sexual assault against the child, affecting the child’s mental health to the point that they visibly cringe when their relative is nearby. In cases where a parent is the aggressor, Child Protective Services will get involved on the children’s behalf.
How is Child Sexual Abuse Treated Under the Law?
If a conviction occurs after an adult engages in sexual behavior with a minor, the penalties can be stiff depending on how severe the state considers the action. Child abuse can range from 1st degree child abuse to 4th degree child abuse, with first degree laws being the most serious.
Many cases of sexual assault against a child will fall under 2nd degree child abuse, as the alleged aggressor intentionally engages in an illegal action that can cause serious mental anguish to a child. First degree charges are not always appropriate in the case of child sexual abuse cases because the state must prove an intent to cause physical or mental harm for a child.
Second degree cases, on the other hand, only require the aggressor to engage in a specific action that is likely to cause serious harm to a child. In that case, you could still be charged with a felony if you are accused of committing child sexual abuse. A second degree case of child sexual abuse carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison for a first offense, and registering as a sex offender on the Michigan Sex Offender Registry becomes mandatory following a conviction.
What Defenses Can Work in Cases of Child Sexual Abuse?
Michigan has a strong desire to appear tough in preventing child sexual abuse, so defending against a credible charge of having sexually abused a child is not easy. However, there are a few effective ways to fight back against these charges.
You are Overcoming Substance Abuse
Drugs can influence a person’s ability to think clearly, and one of the basic tenets of our criminal justice system is that you must knowingly commit a crime in order to be charged with one. If you have recently been accused of sexual assault against a child and you can establish that drugs affected your judgment, you might be able to argue for a lesser sentence, especially if you are seeking treatment.
You Have Witnesses
Witnesses can be a lifesaver for defendants and their sex offender lawyers because they bring facts to a case that is often lacking in concrete evidence. If you can establish that someone was watching your actions and can vouch for them, you have a much better chance to defend yourself in court. Even Child Protective Services can often help, as their history may prove that you are not a threat to engage in a serious crime.
Contact Blank Law, PC for Assistance
If you have been accused of child sexual abuse, no matter how small you think the issue might be, you need to call Attorney Nicole Blank Becker immediately. When it comes to sexual violence, including child sexual abuse, Nicole prides herself on providing strong and informed sexual assault defense strategies for each and every one of the clients that she serves.
Remember, if you are accused of child sexual abuse, these charges will not go away on their own. You need to get the best sex crimes defense lawyer on the case to ensure that you protect your freedom and avoid a lengthy sentence from the judge.
Do not leave anything to chance when it comes to child sexual abuse charges.
Contact Nicole Blank Becker of Blank Law, PC at (248) 515-6583 or send a message through our website.