Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC)

Criminal Sexual Conduct cases are some of the most difficult to defend under Michigan law. The penalties can be far out of reach from the harm done. Additionally, many prospective jurors believe that anyone accused of such a crime must be guilty. After all, “why would a kid lie about it?” Trust me, they do and often many members of the family know it and won’t come clean. Many of the so called experts called by the prosecution believe that just because the accuser is consistent and detailed in his or her account that is must be true. That is complete nonsense but you tax dollars paying these people to try to convict you.

My job is to get to the truth, not to make everyone comfortable. I have successfully handled these cases right through successful verdicts at trial. Not many attorneys have. You owe it to yourself to hire someone who knows these cases and knows how to win them.

Criminal Sexual Conduct in Michigan Michigan recognizes 4 different degrees of criminal sexual conduct. 1st and 3rd deal with “penetration” and 2nd and 4th deal with improper touching (sexual contact).

Penetration is defined as sexual intercourse, cunnilingus, fellatio, anal intercourse, or any other intrusion, however slight, of any part of a person’s body or of any object into the genital or anal openings of another person’s body, but emission of semen is not required.

Sexual Contact is defined as “the intentional touching of the victim’s or actor’s intimate parts or the intentional touching of the clothing covering the immediate area of the victim’s or actor’s intimate parts, if that intentional touching can reasonably be construed as”being for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification,done for a sexual purpose, or in a sexual manner for:

  • Revenge.
  • To inflict humiliation.
  • Out of anger.

Below is a brief description of each:

Criminal Sexual Conduct in the 1st Degree involves penetration. This is the most serious form of CSC in Michigan. There are circumstances in which the crime can carry with it a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years to life. This is nothing to sneeze at. That is why attorneys often ask for such large retainers in these cases. The 25 year mandatory minimum is required if the victim is under 13 and the accused is over 17. It doesn’t matter if the act was factually consensual. Keep in mind the law defines penetration far more broadly than most lay persons do. In all other cases of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree, the maximum penalty is life or any term of years.

In addition to penetration to a victim under 13, a criminal sexual conduct 1st can be charged when any of the following facts are present:

  • That victim is at least 13 but less than 16 years of age AND any of the following:
  • The accused is a member of the same household as the victim.
  • The accused is related to the victim by blood or affinity to the fourth degree.
  • The accused is in a position of authority over the victim and used this authority to coerce the victim to submit.
  • The accused is a teacher, substitute teacher, or administrator of the public school, nonpublic school, school district, or intermediate school district in which that other person is enrolled.
  • The accused is an employee or a contractual service provider of the public school, nonpublic school, school district, or intermediate school district in which that other person is enrolled, or is a volunteer who is not a student in any public school or nonpublic school, or is an employee of this state or of a local unit of government of this state or of the United States assigned to provide any service to that public school, nonpublic school, school district, or intermediate school district, and the actor uses his or her employee, contractual, or volunteer status to gain access to, or to establish a relationship with, that other person.
  • The accused is an employee, contractual service provider, or volunteer of a child care organization, or a person licensed to operate a foster family home or a foster family group home in which that other person is a resident, and the sexual penetration occurs during the period of that other person’s residency. As used in this subparagraph, “child care organization”, “foster family home”, and “foster family group home” mean those terms as defined in section 1 of 1973 PA 116, MCL 722.111.

In any of the above, the charge fo CSC 1st carries a maximum penalty of life or any term of years but there is not the mandatory 25 year mandatory minimum.

Criminal Sexual Conduct in the 2nd Degree involves touching without penetration. It carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison. It is most often charged when the victim is under 13 and the accused is 17 years of age or older. If the victim is 13-15 years of age and any of the following apply, a CSC 2nd Degree can also be charged:

The accused is a member of the same household as the victim.

The accused is related by blood or affinity to the fourth degree to the victim.

The accused is in a position of authority over the victim and the actor used this authority to coerce the victim to submit.

The accused is a teacher, substitute teacher, or administrator of the public school, nonpublic school, school district, or intermediate school district in which that other person is enrolled.

The accused is an employee or a contractual service provider of the public school, nonpublic school, school district, or intermediate school district in which that other person is enrolled, or is a volunteer who is not a student in any public school or nonpublic school, or is an employee of this state or of a local unit of government of this state or of the United States assigned to provide any service to that public school, nonpublic school, school district, or intermediate school district, and the actor uses his or her employee, contractual, or volunteer status to gain access to, or to establish a relationship with, that other person.

The accused is an employee, contractual service provider, or volunteer of a child care organization, or a person licensed to operate a foster family home or a foster family group home in which that other person is a resident and the sexual contact occurs during the period of that other person’s residency. As used in this subdivision, “child care organization”, “foster family home”, and “foster family group home” mean those terms as defined in section 1 of 1973 PA 116, MCL 722.111.

Criminal Sexual Conduct 1st Degree

This charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. To be found guilty of this, the prosecution must prove that the accused put some part of his or her body or some object into an opening on the victim’s body. These charges are fact driven. In addition, the prosecution must prove one of the “aggravating circumstances” in the statute. The most common of these are the victim: being under 13 years old, between the ages of 13 and 16 and also having a position of authority over the victim, the act was committed during another felony or the act was done to some one who was mentally handicapped. Note that consent is not a defense under any of these aggravating circumstances. Nor is an honest mistake of age.

Criminal Sexual Conduct 2nd Degree

This carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison. This charge involves improper touching with the aggravating circumstances listed in the statute. These aggravating circumstances are similar, but not identical to the ones in Criminal Sexual Conduct 1st Degree. Often this charge is the result of a failed penetration that resulted in inappropriate touching in the attempt.

Criminal Sexual Conduct 3rd Degree

This charge carries a maximum penalty of 15 years. Like its 1st degree counterpart, penetration is the key element here. However, the aggravating circumstances are different. Some of the more common ones are: the victim between 13 and 16, mental incapacity, and force or coercion. The facts of each case can create an overlap on the aggravating circumstances for criminal sexual conduct 1st and 3rd degree. Prosecutors, in this attorney’s experience, tend to charge high, particularly if the accused has prior felony convictions.

Criminal Sexual Conduct 4th Degree

This is a high misdemeanor and carries a maximum penalty of 2 years. This charge is often used in plea negotiations to get the accused to plead down from 2nd Degree. Don’t face these charges alone. Your life could be ruined. If convicted, not only are you looking at a long prison sentence, but you will have to register as sex offender for the next 25 years. Michigan punishes criminal sexual conduct very severely.

Don’t waste time, call us today.

criminal defense lawyer in grand rapids ryan maesen

I also have assisted clients accused of Financial and White Collar crimes in Federal Court. I have helped hundreds of individuals across West Michigan and I can help you to during this challenging period of your life.

Some of my higher profile cases have been covered by the local media. Please see the In the News page for details.

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