What is Criminal Sexual Contact?
Criminal sexual contact is basically non-consensual sexual contact that does not involve sexual penetration. Although criminal sexual contact is a less serious crime than rape or sexual assault, it is nonetheless a sex crime that can result in harsh punishments.
Criminal sexual contact may be classified as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances. Thus, it may be charged as a second or fourth degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC) offense depending on the circumstances surrounding the criminal sexual contact.
Criminal Sexual Contact
Although the precise definition of criminal sexual contact varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, it typically refers to any unwelcome sexual contact or offensive touching that is carried out under duress.
Common Examples of Criminal Sexual Contact
Examples include caressing anyone’s sexually suggestible body areas, such as the breasts, buttocks, or genital region. A threat to harm the victim or a loved one if they refuse to have sexual contact is one example of a non-physical kind of coercion that will get you into trouble.
Other examples of criminal sexual contact include forcing someone to touch your genitals without their consent. Unwanted sexual contact, such as grinding against someone on a dance floor, could also be considered criminal sexual contact.
Classification of Criminal Sexual Contact
Depending on the seriousness of the violation, four degrees of criminal sexual behavior exist in Michigan. Criminal sexual conduct 1st degree and criminal sexual conduct 3rd degree involve sexual penetration. Criminal sexual conduct 2nd degree and criminal sexual conduct 4th degree comprises non-consensual sexual touching, i.e. criminal sexual contact.
Aggravated Criminal Sexual Contact
A more serious offense that involves the use of physical force or the threat of significant bodily injury is aggravated criminal sexual contact. This could happen when the victim is harmed physically or when they are threatened with a weapon.
As a subset of CSC 1st degree, aggravated criminal sexual contact includes sexual penetration, contact that is accompanied by the use of force or compulsion, or contact with a victim who is a blood-relative to the actor.
Aggravated criminal sexual contact is treated harshly by Michigan law, which recognizes it as a particularly vile and violent felony. Those found guilty of aggravated sexual abuse face a maximum sentence of life in prison and may also need to register as sex offenders.
Therefore, even though mere sexual contact could be a less serious offense compared to sexual assault, commonly known as rape, every set of facts will be different. Depending on the facts of the case and the applicable legislation, aggravated criminal sexual contact may be charged as a first, second, or third degree offense.
Consent and Criminal Sexual Contact
It is significant to remember that a key element in establishing whether or not a sexual act is unlawful is consent. Sexual behavior is not seen as criminal if both individuals provide their consent. However, it is deemed non-consensual and, as a result, illegal if one person is coerced or forced into the sexual activity.
Federal Law on Criminal Sexual Contact
Under federal law, it is illegal to engage in certain types of criminal sexual contact with another person.
Specifically, 18 U.S. Code section 2244(a) makes it a crime to knowingly engage in sexual contact with someone else if it would violate other federal laws had the contact been a sexual act.
This type of criminal sexual contact is defined as the intentional touching of certain areas on another person, such as the genitals, breasts, inner thighs, or buttocks, either over or under the person’s clothes. This touching must be done with the intent to humiliate, harass, or abuse the person or to arouse or satisfy a desire of a sexual nature.
Criminal sexual contact is forbidden by federal law in the U.S. Examples include 18 U.S. Code Section 2241, which addresses aggravated sexual assault. Others are covered by Section 2242, which sanctions sexual abuse, and Section 2243, which forbids sexual abuse of a minor.
Under federal law, criminal sexual contact is not to be handled lightly. This is why you should contact a competent sex crimes lawyer right away if you are charged with any of these offenses.
A criminal sexual conduct attorney will advise you on your legal alternatives in addition to assisting you in understanding the accusations made against you and the possible repercussions. If necessary, your chosen sex crimes defense lawyer will represent you in court.
An effective attorney–client relationship will greatly benefit your case.
Michigan’s Law on Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC)
In Michigan, any sexual contact or penetration of another individual without their consent is considered criminal sexual conduct. The first degree is the most severe, and the fourth degree is the least severe, illegal sexual activity.
First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct
A first degree criminal sexual act occurs when an actor sexually penetrates a victim who is a person under 13 years of age. This offense could also happen if the victim is below 16 years old and the actor is, for instance, a school teacher of the victim (see: teacher sexual misconduct).
Second Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct
A CSC 2nd degree charge is also a serious offense, but it involves sexual contact rather than sexual penetration. It occurs when the victim is under 13 years old and experiences sexual contact. Other scenarios could be cases where the victim is between 13 years and 16 years of age and is a blood relative of the actor. It is punishable by up to 15 years in prison (see: CSC 2nd degree Michigan penalty).
Third Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct
A 3rd degree sexual assault charge in Michigan involves the sexual penetration of a victim that is a person 13 thru 15 years old. Another scenario that would amount to a third degree CSC charge is if the penetration is accomplished by force or coercion, or the victim is mentally incapable, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless and the perpetrator knows or has reason to know this.
This charge is punishable by up to 15 years in prison (see: CSC 3rd degree Michigan penalty).
Fourth Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct
This offense has the same factors as third degree CSC, except that a CSC 4th degree charge involves sexual contact rather than sexual penetration.
Criminal Sexual Conduct Penalties
Michigan’s penalties are a result of the severity of the offense and the victim’s age. A felony carrying a maximum sentence of life in prison is typically first degree criminal sexual behavior (see: CSC 1st degree Michigan penalty). Sexual offenses of the second degree carry a maximum 15–year prison sentence. Sexual offenses of the third degree are felonies that carry a mandatory minimum sentencing of 15 years in prison. For 4th degree sexual assault convictions, courts give out a maximum sentence of two years in prison (see: CSC 4th degree Michigan penalty).
Defenses for Criminal Sexual Conduct Cases in Michigan
The victim must be at least 16 years old in order for consent to be a valid defense in Michigan against sexual assault (see: what is the age of consent in Michigan?). In addition, it is unlawful to engage in sexual activity with a victim who is unable to consent due to mental incapacity or physical helplessness. Therefore, the use of force or compulsion is not necessary to establish criminal sexual behavior.
Hire Blank Law, PC
It is crucial to seek legal counsel from a qualified CSC defense attorney if you have been charged with criminal sexual contact. Most cases involving sex crimes are messy right from the beginning. A mere accusation can destroy a reputation you have built for decades. Always keep in mind that the attorney-client relationship is a crucial component of the legal process, so it is extremely important to choose a rape defense attorney you can trust and feel at ease dealing with.
Attorney Nicole Blank Becker and her team at Blank Law, PC are fully aware of how upsetting and stressful it is to be accused of a sex crime. Our group of knowledgeable lawyers is here to guide you through the criminal justice system and defend your legal rights. Do not hesitate to get in touch with us for a Michigan criminal defense attorney free consultation if you have been charged with criminal sexual contact or any other offense.