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What are the Four Degrees of Criminal Sexual Conduct in Michigan?

If you’ve been falsely accused of a sex crime, you likely have a lot of questions and uncertainty. What kind of charges might you face? What are the penalties? Most importantly, what acts qualify as criminal sexual conduct in Michigan? While these questions can feel stressful and overwhelming, it’s important you stay calm and understand the four degrees of criminal sexual conduct in Michigan.

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 other “aggravating circumstances.”Not only that, but some degrees are felonies while others are high court misdemeanors.

Just as important as determining whether there was consent for the sexual contact is determining the intent of the sexual touching. Proving a CSC requires that the prosecution demonstrate the touching was intended to obtain sexual gratification. In other words, not all touching of intimate parts necessarily qualifies as CSC. To better understand how this works, we need to elaborate on the four degrees of criminal sexual conduct in Michigan.

What are the Degrees of Criminal Sexual Conduct?

4th Degree

  • Description: 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 this charge, but it often includes either the intimate touching of a minor between 13-15, 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 teacher/student, guard/prisoner, doctor/patient, or manager/subordinate.

  • Penalties: Penalties for a fourth-degree CSC may include up to two years in prison, a $500 fine, a criminal record, and always includes sex offender registration. Doctors, teachers, and other authority figures convicted of this charge may also face license suspension.

3rd Degree

  • Description: Third-degree CSC is a felony and applies in cases where there was sexual penetration, and either force or coercion was used. It also includes situations where the other person falls under one of the protected groups listed above.

  • Penalties: Michigan code states that third-degree CSC is punishable by imprisonment for “no more than 15 years.” Additionally, those convicted must register as sex offenders.

2nd Degree

  • Description: Second-degree CSC is similar to fourth-degree in that it describes touching, not but penetration. More specifically, a second-degree charge applies when the other person is under 13 years of age or if the other person suffered an injury, if a weapon was used to force or coerce, or if another person abetted the act.

  • Penalties: 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 “lifetime of electronic monitoring.” Electronic monitoring is done via a GPS tether device, similar to ankle monitors worn by people under house arrest.

1st Degree

  • Description: First-degree CSC is the most serious kind and describes cases where sexual penetration is performed on a child under 13 years of age or when the child is 13-16, and the accused is in a position of authority over them (teacher, afterschool care, doctor, etc.). It also describes cases of sexual penetration in conjunction with violence, injury, use of a weapon, kidnapping, extortion, or other threats of violence.

  • Penalties: A first-degree CSC conviction is a life offense, one of the most serious charges in Michigan, and in some circumstances carries a mandatory 25-year term. It’s also important to recognize that any sentence for this conviction is to be served consecutively, meaning time for any other charges does not begin until the full sentence for this charge has been served. After their sentence is complete, those convicted of this felony must join the sex offender registry and may, under certain circumstances, be subjected to a lifetime of electronic monitoring.

Why Do I Need a Michigan Criminal Attorney?

Any CSC-related charge is extremely serious and can fundamentally change your life. In Michigan, anyone convicted of a CSC is required to register as a sex offender. That can make it extremely difficult to move forward and 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 offense registration. Remember that the nature of intimate touching and the exact circumstances surrounding the act can have an enormous impact on your case.

If you have been falsely accused of criminal sexual conduct or are 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 don’t hesitate to send us an email or call (269) 218-8880.

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