What is Criminal Sexual Conduct?
Criminal sexual conduct allegations or charges are emotionally fraught and can have very serious consequences. Besides the potential life-altering penalties that come with a sex offender conviction, you may also face social stigma and ruined reputation even if you are not found guilty.
For that reason, you owe it to yourself to hire a skilled criminal defense lawyer when facing criminal sexual conduct allegations or charges in Michigan. The right sex crimes attorney will help you understand the seriousness of the specific criminal sexual conduct you are being accused of and work to protect your freedom and future.
What is Criminal Sexual Conduct?
Under Michigan criminal law, sexual assault offenses involving forced penetration or contact with another person are referred to as criminal sexual conduct (CSC) offenses. Based on the severity of the sex crimes one has committed, or is being accused of committing, CSC in Michigan can be categorized in four degrees, namely:
- First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct
- Second Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct
- Third Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct
- Fourth Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct
The Four Different Degrees of Criminal Sexual Conduct
1. First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct
First degree criminal sexual conduct is the most serious among all of the four degrees of CSC in Michigan. It involves sexual penetration of another person and usually has a tremendous psychological toll on all of the parties involved.
Once found guilty of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree, the convicted person may receive a minimum sentence of 25 years in prison or spend the rest of their life in prison.
Criminal sexual conduct in the first degree charges can be pressed under the following circumstances:
- The victim is below 13 years of age
- The victim is between 13 and 16 years of age and is related to the actor up to the fourth degree, lives in the same household, and has authority over the victim
- The actor had a weapon or something that had the appearance of a weapon
- The sex offender uses force or coercion to commit the sexual contact
- The actor had prior knowledge that the person assaulted was physically helpless or mentally incapacitated while committing the offense
- The actor was an employee at the victim’s school or held a position of authority over the victim and used coercion to accomplish sexual penetration
- One or multiple actors were involved in aiding the defendant while using force or coercion to accomplish sexual penetration
- The victim suffers a personal injury while the actor is committing the offense
- The defendant was committing another felony when they committed the sexual offense
2. Second Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct
Unlike criminal sexual conduct in the first degree, being guilty of criminal sexual conduct second degree means the actor inappropriately making sexual contact with the victim’s intimate parts, without penetration.
Second degree criminal sexual conduct charges are usually pressed when a person over 17 years of age engages in sexual contact with a victim under 13 years of age. It carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
For one to be found guilty of criminal sexual conduct second degree when the victim is between 13 to 15 years of age, the prosecution must prove that the said sexual contact happened under the following circumstances:
- The actor intentionally engages in nonconsensual sexual contact of the intimate parts of the victim or the clothing covering that area
- The intentional touching was done for sexual arousal or gratification
- Any of the circumstances listed in the first degree criminal sexual conduct, without sexual penetration
3. Third Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct
Like first degree criminal sexual conduct, sexual penetration is the main element in third degree sexual criminal conduct. However, the circumstances differ from those of a first degree criminal sexual conduct charge.
Typically, a third degree CSC, which is commonly referred to as Statutory Rape, encompasses situations where an individual engages in any sexual activity involving sexual penetration, especially with minors above 13 years of age or the victim is mentally incapacitated, mentally impaired, or physically helpless.
Once a person is found guilty of CSC third degree, i.e. rape, the accused could spend up to 15 years in prison. One may be charged with CSC third degree if sexual penetration occurred under the following circumstances:
- The victim is above 13 and below 16 years of age
- The actor uses force or coercion during the commission to accomplish sexual activity
- The actor causes a personal injury to the victim at the time of committing the offense
- The actor had prior knowledge that the victim is mentally incapacitated or physically helpless while committing the offense
- The accused has relations with the victim up to the fourth degree and holds a position of authority over them
- The victim is between 16 and 18 years of age, while the actor is a teacher or worked at a children’s institution
- The victim is a special needs student or a foster home resident between 16-26 years of age, while the actor is a teacher or a worker in a children’s institution, unless they are legally married.
- Another person or persons assisted the actor in committing the offense
4. Fourth Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct
In Michigan, 4th degree CSC is a misdemeanor. Upon conviction for criminal sexual conduct in the 4th degree, the defendant could receive a maximum sentence of 2 years in prison and a $500 fine. However, probation may be a possibility in the most lenient of sentencing.
Much like the second degree CSC, fourth degree CSC involves a situation where the defendant engages in sexual contact that doesn’t involve sexual penetration. That’s unlike criminal sexual conduct in the first and third degree.
According to the Michigan penal code 750.520e, a person can be charged with 4th degree criminal sexual conduct under the following circumstances:
- The prosecution can prove that the touching occurred intentionally and for sexual arousal or gratification
- The victim is between 13 and 15 years of age, while the actor is at least five years older than the victim
- The defendant works in the department of corrections, where the victim was an inmate
- The actor has prior knowledge that the person assaulted was mentally incapacitated or physically helpless
- The defendant was assisted by another person or persons who used force or coercion to accomplish sexual activity
- The victim has had a patient-doctor relationship with the actor where the actor worked as a mental health practitioner, and it is within two years since the last appointment
- The victim is a student or a foster home resident and is between 16 to 18 years of age, while the actor worked at any capacity that implied authority in the institution
- The student has special needs, aged between 16 to 26, while the actor is a teacher or a worker at their institution unless they are legally married
- The actor causes force or coercion to achieve sexual contact
- The actor causes a personal injury at the time of committing the offense
Consequences of a CSC Conviction in Michigan
Being found guilty of criminal sexual conduct in Michigan can have severe consequences, with most being life-altering. Besides spending years, to potentially life, in prison, fines, and probation, other consequences include:
- Having to register on the sex offender registry
- Being subjected to electronic monitoring for a lifetime
- Work and residential limitations
- Loss of professional licenses
- Loss of custody for your children
- Deportation for non-Americans
Let Blank Law, PC Handle Your Criminal Sexual Conduct Charge
In Michigan, many have had to carry the burden of being falsely accused of sex crimes because of revenge or attempts to get leverage in divorce proceedings. Whether your allegations are true, we never judge our clients based on the allegations leveled against them, and we never assume that they are anything other than innocent.
If you or another person you love is facing criminal sexual conduct allegations or charges in Michigan, don’t hesitate to contact us at 248-515-6583. The sooner you do, the sooner our criminal defense attorney, Nicole Blank Becker, is able to develop a winning criminal defense to ensure the most favorable outcome.