If you’ve been falsely accused of a sex crime, you likely have a lot of questions and uncertainty. What kinds of criminal charges might you face? What are the penalties? How might this charge impact your life? And most importantly, which acts qualify as criminal sexual conduct in Michigan?
While these questions can feel stressful and overwhelming, it’s important you stay calm. Having a greater understanding of the four degrees of criminal sexual conduct in Michigan will help to clarify your unique situation before you take the next step of contacting an attorney.
What Is Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC) in Michigan?
Criminal sexual conduct (CSC) describes a wide range of sexual conduct, including touching and penetration, among others. There are four degrees of CSC in Michigan, with the 4th-degree being unwanted sexual touching and 1st-degree being non-consensual penetration combined with “aggravating circumstances.” In addition, some degrees are considered felonies, while others are high court misdemeanors.
Determining the intent of the sexual touching is as important as determining whether there was consent. Proving a CSC in a court of law requires the prosecution to prove that the touching was intended to obtain sexual gratification. In other words, proving that touching of intimate areas occurred does not automatically qualify the encounter as criminal sexual conduct.
To better understand any charges you may be facing, read through the definitions of each degree of criminal sexual conduct according to Michigan law.
What Are the Degrees of Criminal Sexual Conduct?
Criminal Sexual Conduct, 4th Degree
What Is 4th-Degree CSC?
Fourth-degree CSC is a high court misdemeanor, treated much like a felony. It describes unwanted intimate touching with a sexual purpose.
There are many factors to consider in a CSC 4th degree charge, but it often includes either the intimate touching of a minor between 13 and 15 years old, touching of a person who the actor knows (or has reason to know) is mentally or physically disabled or touching from an authority figure.
Examples of these authority relationships include:
Penalties for 4th-Degree CSC
The penalties for a fourth-degree CSC may include:
Up to two years in prison
A $500 fine
A criminal record
Sex offender registration
Doctors, teachers, and other authority figures convicted of CSC 4th degree may also face license suspension.
Criminal Sexual Conduct, 3rd Degree
What Is 3rd-Degree CSC?
Third-degree CSC is a felony and applies in cases where there was sexual penetration and either force or coercion was used.
CSC 3rd degree also includes situations where the other person falls under one of the protected groups listed above (under the age of consent, mentally incapacitated, etc.).
Penalties for 3rd-Degree CSC
Michigan law states that third-degree CSC is punishable by imprisonment for “no more than 15 years.” Additionally, those convicted must register as sex offenders.
Criminal Sexual Conduct, 2nd Degree
What Is 2nd-Degree CSC?
Second-degree CSC is similar to the fourth degree in that it describes touching, not penetration.
More specifically, a second-degree charge applies when:
The other person is under 13 years of age;
The other person suffered an injury;
A weapon was used to force or coerce; or
Another person abetted the act.
Penalties for 2nd-Degree CSC
In addition to mandatory sex offender registration, a second-degree CSC conviction carries a punishment of no more than 15 years and under certain circumstances may require permanent electronic monitoring.
Electronic monitoring is done via a GPS tether device, similar to ankle monitors worn by people under house arrest.
Criminal Sexual Conduct, 1st Degree
What Is 1st-Degree CSC?
First-degree CSC is the most serious charge and describes cases where sexual penetration is performed on a child under 13 years of age. It also applies when the child is between 13 and 16 years old, and the accused is in a position of authority over them (teacher, afterschool care, doctor, etc.).
CSC 1st degree also describes cases of sexual penetration in conjunction with violence, injury, use of a weapon, kidnapping, extortion or other threats of violence.
Penalties for 1st-Degree CSC
A first-degree CSC conviction is one of the most serious charges in Michigan and, in some circumstances, carries a mandatory 25-year term.
It’s important to know that any sentence resulting from a first-degree CSC conviction will be served consecutively. Time that results from other charges will not begin until the full sentence for the first-degree CSC charge has been served.
After serving time, those convicted of this felony must join the sex offender registry and may, under certain circumstances, be subjected to permanent electronic monitoring.
Do I Need a Criminal Attorney to Fight a Criminal Sexual Conduct Charge?
Yes. Any CSC-related charge is extremely serious and can fundamentally change your life — and the lives of those you love. It is important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. In Michigan, anyone convicted of a CSC is required to register as a sex offender, which can make it difficult to find work and housing even after a completed prison sentence.
A skillful criminal defense lawyer can often negotiate an agreement to dismiss CSC charges in exchange for a plea to a lesser offense that does NOT require sex offender registration. Remember that the nature of the intimate touching and the exact circumstances surrounding the act can have an enormous impact on your case.
If you have been accused of criminal sexual conduct or are currently facing charges, it’s critical that you have an experienced attorney ready to defend you. Your attorney can go over the facts with you and put together the best possible defense to secure your freedom.
If you have been falsely accused of criminal sexual conduct, it’s crucial that you have experienced counsel to defend you. If you’d like to schedule an appointment with an experienced Kalamazoo criminal attorney from Levine & Levine Attorneys at Law, please send us an email or call 269-218-8880.