What is Criminal Sexual Conduct 1st Degree?
In Michigan, sex crime allegations are taken very seriously by law enforcement authorities.
Depending on the seriousness of the sexual act one has committed or is accused of committing, the sex crime may be classified as first, second, third, or fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC).
Of all the four categories, criminal sexual conduct 1st degree is the most serious kind of sex offense with which one can be charged. It involves the sexual penetration (vaginal, anal or oral) of the victim and comes with life-altering consequences.
If there is a possibility that you may be facing criminal sexual conduct in the first degree charges, understanding what the crime entails can help you protect your future and freedom.
You should NOT wait until you are charged to contact an attorney or find out why you are being investigated for possible criminal sexual conduct in the first-degree charge.
We’ll cover everything about criminal sexual conduct in the first degree, including its penalties and how to defend yourself in today’s post.
Let’s begin by understanding what it is.
What is Criminal Sexual Conduct 1st Degree?
Being the most serious category of sex crimes, first degree CSC is often associated with sexual assault, sexual battery, strangulation or rape. The crime also encompasses actions that can be viewed as child molestation, child rape, sexual battery or sexual assault if the victim is a person with a disability.
According to Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.520b, any person, whether male or female, can be charged with criminal sexual conduct in the first degree if the sexual crime involves the following elements:
Elements of First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct
There are various elements that must be present for a first degree criminal sexual conduct charge to move forward.
Some of these include:
It’s important to note that a first degree criminal sexual conduct charge will arise mainly if the allegation involves sexual penetration. With that said, sexual penetration in Michigan means several things.
Here are various sexual acts that the Michigan Penal Code considers to be sexual penetration:
- Sexual intercourse
- Anal intercourse
- Oral sex, whether performed on male or female
- Inserting any object into the genital or anal areas of another
- Inserting finger(s) into the vagina or any other form of a virtual penetration
Force or Coercion
Force or coercion is another important element of first degree criminal sexual conduct.
This often happens when the offender uses:
- Physical violence or force
- Threats of violence or force, as long as the alleged victim believes the offender has the present ability to carry out the threats
- Threats of retaliation; in other words, the offender threatens to use violence or force at some point in the future, as long as the victim believes they are capable of following through with the threats
- The element of surprise to overpower the victim
A Minor – Below 13 Years of Age
In Michigan, the protection of young children is of the highest priority.
Simply put, you’ll risk a criminal sexual conduct charge in the first degree if you are being accused of committing the act of sexual penetration against a minor below the age of 13.
Upon conviction, you may face a minimum of 25 years in prison, or even life in prison, without the possibility of parole.
Elements that can be Considered Aggravating Circumstance
An aggravating circumstance is when you should be charged with a lesser criminal sexual conduct charge, but that charge is enhanced due to one of the additional elements below:
Personal Injury – i.e. Physical Injury or Mental Anguish
A criminal sexual conduct in the first degree charge is likely if the victim sustains a personal injury due to force, used by the actor, while trying to achieve sexual penetration.
It’s important to note that a personal injury can refer to either physical injuries or mental anguish. In other words, criminal sexual conduct charges in the first degree may arise if the victim suffers mere welts, scratches, bruises, or other marks on the groin, shoulders, wrists, or hands during the commission of sexual penetration.
If personal injury is in the form of mental anguish, the prosecutor must present evidence to justify the injury. In most sexual assault cases, evidence that the victim was hysterical, crying, upset, or sought psychiatric care after the incident is sufficient to prove this type of injury.
Aiding and Abetting a Crime
First degree criminal sexual conduct charges are likely if at least one or more other persons are involved in helping the offender achieve sexual penetration.
With that said, there must be evidence that the perpetrators used force or coercion.
Assault During the Commission of Another Felony
A criminal sexual conduct in the first degree charge is likely if the sexual penetration occurs while the offender is committing another felony, such as robbery or kidnapping.
Nevertheless, there must be evidence that the felony is related to the alleged victim in some way.
Use of a Weapon
The use of a weapon is another aggravating circumstance that could result in a first degree criminal sexual conduct charge.
That means charges will move forward if the accused person is armed with a weapon, or has something the victim believes is a weapon, while committing a CSC.
The following circumstances may also lead to a first degree criminal sexual conduct charge:
- The victim is aged above 13, but less than 16 years, as long as:
- The offender is in a position of authority to force penetration
- The offender is related to the victim by blood or familial affinity up to the fourth degree
- The offender lives in the same household as the victim
- The victim is mentally incapacitated or physically helpless, and the offender had prior knowledge of the victim’s condition or they should have known while committing the sex offense
- The actor holds a position of power or authority over the victim as a result of which the victim submits
- The victim is mentally incapable, mentally incapacitated or physically helpless and is related to the offender by blood, or the actor holds a position of authority or power
Punishment for Criminal Sexual Conduct First Degree
Criminal sexual conduct in the first degree is a serious felony offense in Michigan. The penalty of this felony is punishable by up to life in prison, upon conviction.
With that being said, there are specific sentencing guidelines based on the ages of the victim and the offender when the crime happened.
For instance, if the offender was 17, and the victim was below 13 years of age at the time of the offense, the mandatory-minimum sentence is 25 years in prison.
If the defendant was at least 18 years, and the victim was below the age of 13, the law requires a life sentence without parole. However, the sentences may sometimes vary based on the judge’s discretion, along with the lawyer you chose to fight for your life.
Additionally, convicted offenders who get to serve a sentence less than life will be electronically monitored for life. This helps the state to keep track of the convicts’ whereabouts at all times.
Sex Offender Registration
Regardless of the sentence imposed, anyone convicted of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree will have to register with the Michigan sex offender registry.
Under the Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA), first degree criminal sexual conduct is a tier-three offense, meaning your personal information will remain on the public registry for life.
Penalties for Habitual Offenders
In Michigan, an offender with a prior conviction(s) for criminal sexual conduct often face stiffer penalties. According to Michi. Comp. Laws § 750.520f, second-time or subsequent offenders are required to face at least five years in prison.
It’s important to note that you may be considered a habitual offender even if accomplish sexual battery, sexual assault, gross indecency, indecent liberties, or carnal knowledge conviction was outside the state of Michigan.
Other Consequences of a CSC 1st Degree Conviction in Michigan
Being found guilty of criminal sexual conduct in Michigan can have severe consequences, with most being life-altering.
Besides spending years in prison, other severe ramifications that may result from a first degree criminal sexual conduct conviction include:
- Job loss
- Residential and work limitations
- Travel restrictions
- Loss of child custody
- Court fees and criminal fines
- Deportations for non-Americans
Defending Your First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct Case
First degree criminal sexual conduct allegations are sometimes fabricated. That means it is not unusual to face charges due to misunderstandings or significant relationship tensions with your current or estranged partner, colleagues, friends, or family member.
Breakups, divorce, and child custody battles are also known to fuel sex crime allegations. The worst part is that society will consider you guilty of criminal sexual conduct even when you are innocent, especially if your case involves a minor.
Regardless of the circumstances surrounding your first degree criminal sexual conduct case, the burden to prove you guilty of criminal sexual conduct, beyond reasonable doubt, lies with the prosecutor. That means the prosecution has to tell their version of the story and present all of the available evidence, including forensic evidence such as DNA samples and the alleged victim’s testimony.
With that said, the outcome of your case will depend on the strength of your defense arguments. That’s why you need to hire a reliable sex crime attorney to help you craft a compelling defense strategy and represent you in your criminal sexual conduct in the first degree case.
A knowledgeable and experienced lawyer will scrutinize the available evidence and identify any gaps and inconsistencies in the alleged victim’s testimony to help you obtain the best possible result in your case.
It’s important not to wait until you face charges to hire a criminal defense attorney. The best time to seek the services of a sex crimes attorney is immediately!
You must protect yourself at all costs. Do not wait until you get arrested or investigated for committing a crime you did not commit. Acting quickly will help you avoid saying or doing things that may implicate you further.
A good lawyer will also ensure that your rights are not violated throughout the entire process, and that process starts now!
Having potentially never been in this position before, you need to hire a professional. Not just any criminal defense attorney, but one who knows CSC crimes and has the history to prove it.
Trust Blank Law, PC to Handle Your First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct Case
Anyone facing sex penetration charges will risk life imprisonment, lifetime electronic monitoring, or being required to register as a sex offender.
The good news is that you may avoid all or some of these serious consequences if you trust a skilled criminal defense attorney like Nicole Blank Becker to handle your case.
Nicole’s law practice focuses solely on sex crime charges. Having worked as a prosecutor before, as the Chief of Sex Crimes at the prosecutor’s office, she knows how the process goes and how these types of cases are analyzed. She will use that knowledge to fight your charges.
Nicole Blank Becker also prides herself on keeping a great attorney-client relationship, and everything you say to her will remain completely confidential.
Call our office toll-free at (248) 515-6583 to learn how we can help with a free consultation. You can also contact us online to schedule a free consultation with our CSC attorney, Nicole Blank Becker.