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Criminal Sexual Conduct

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Criminal Sexual Conduct

What is Criminal Sexual Conduct in Michigan?

At Van Den Heuvel Law Office, our Defense Attorneys are experienced in helping people protect their rights.  If you, or someone you know, have been accused of a criminal sexual crime (CSC), you need an advocate on your side who will actively fight for you. In the meantime, here is a summary of the law. The Michigan statute concerning CSC creates four degrees of offense:

Sexual Penetration Sexual Contact
1st Degree 3rd Degree 2nd Degree 4th Degree
Sexual Penetration + greater aggravating circumstance Sexual Penetration + lesser aggravating circumstance Sexual Contact + greater aggravating circumstance Sexual Contact + lesser aggravating circumstance
  • First-degree CSC involves “sexual penetration” plus one aggravating circumstance set forth in MCL 750.520b.
  • Second-degree CSC involves “sexual contact” plus one aggravating circumstance for CSC in the first degree or an additional circumstance relating to sexual contact between state or county corrections officers and inmates, probationers, or pretrial detainees. MCL 750.520c.
  • Third-degree CSC, like CSC in the first degree, requires “sexual penetration” plus one designated aggravating circumstance, other than those specified for first-degree CSC. MCL 750.520d.
  • Fourth Degree CSC involves “sexual contact” aggravated by circumstances not specified for CSC in the second degree. MCL 750.520e.

Who Can Be Guilty of Criminal Sexual Conduct?

I. 1st and 3rd Degree: Sexual Penetration + Aggravating Circumstance

Sexual Penetration definition: any intercourse that is sexual, anal, oral to penile, tongue/lips to female genitals, or any other intrusion, however slight, of any part of a person’s body. This includes any object into the genital or anal openings of another person’s body. The emission of semen is not required. MCL 750.520a(r).

a. 1st Degree Aggravating Circumstance definition:

  • The alleged victim is:
    • Under 13 years of age,
    • Under 16 but at least 13 years of age,
    • The accused performs sexual penetration while committing a felony.
  • The accused:
    • Is aided or abetted by another person,
    • Is armed with weapon,
    • Causes personal injury to the alleged victim,
    • Causes personal injury to the alleged victim and knows the victim is helpless or has a disability.

b. 3rd Degree Aggravating Circumstance definition:

  • The alleged victim is:
    • 13, 14, or 15 years old,
    • Related to the accused by blood in the 3rd degree,
    • 16 or 17 years old and a student, or
    • Received special education services and is 16-25 years old.
  • The accused:
    • Uses force or coercion,
    • Knows or has reason to know that the alleged victim is disabled or helpless, or
    • Is an
      • employee or the like of a child-care organization,
      • licensed to operate such organization,
      • person 16 years of age, and
      • sexual penetration occurs during the person’s residency at the childcare organization.

II. 2nd and 4th Degree: Sexual Contact + Aggravating Circumstance

Sexual Contact Definition: intentional intimate touching “if that intentional touching can reasonably be construed as being for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification.” The definition also includes intentional intimate touching done for a sexual purpose or in a sexual manner for revenge, to inflict humiliation, or out of anger.

a. 2nd Degree Aggravating Circumstance:

  • The alleged victim is:
    • under 13,
    • 13, 14, or 15 years old and has a relationship with accused,
    • disabled and has a relationship with accused,
    • under the jurisdiction of the department of corrections and the accused is an employee.
  • The accused
    • Performs sexual contact while committing a felony,
    • Is aided or abetted by another,
    • Knows or reason to know victim is helpless or disabled,
    • Uses force or coercion to complete sexual contact,
    • Is armed with a weapon,
    • Causes personal injury to victim after using force or coercion,
    • Causes personal injury knowing or reason to know victim is helpless or disabled.

b. 4th Degree Aggravating Circumstances:

  • The alleged victim
    • Is 13, 14, or 15 years old and the accused is 5 years older than the victim,
    • Is 16 or 17 years old and a student with service-provider relationship with accused,
    • Is 16-25 years old, receiving special education services and accused has, volunteer or teacher relationship with victim, or
    • Related to accused by blood in 3rd
  • The accused
    • Uses force or coercion,
    • Knows or has reason to know the victim is helpless or disabled,
    • Is a mental health professional and sexual contact occurs within 2 years after the victim is the person’s client,
    • Is a child care organization employee or the like, the victim is at least 16, and sexual contact occurred when victim was residing at the child care organization.

What Elements Must the Prosecution Prove, and What are the Penalties?

The following are the elements for each CSC offense according to degree. See the model jury instructions for more information not listed here. (See M Crim JI 20.1, 20.2, 20.12, and 20.13). In a criminal case, the State must prove all the elements of a charged crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

I. CSC in the 1st Degree 

a. Statutory Authority
MCL 750.520b.

b. Elements

  1. The defendant engaged in a sexual act that involved one of the following:
    a. entry into the complainant’s genital opening or anal opening by the defendant’s penis, finger, tongue, or object
    b. entry into the complainant’s mouth by the defendant’s penis
    c. touching of the complainant’s genital openings or genital organs with the defendant’s mouth or tongue
    d. entry by any part of one person’s body or some object into the genital or anal opening of another person’s body
  2. Any of the alternatives in M Crim JI 20.3–20.11, as warranted by the evidence, that may apply.

c. Penalty

 A 1st degree CSC is a felony that is punishable by life in prison or for any term of years.

Whereas, if a person is at least 17 years old and convicted for a violation against a person under 13 years old, then the penalty is prison for life, or at least 25 years.

Lastly, if a person at least 18 years old was previously convicted for committing a violation against an individual under 13 years old, and commits another violation against another 13 years old, then the penalty is prison for life without parole.

II. 2nd Degree CSC

a. Statutory Authority
MCL 750.520c.

 b. Elements

  1. The defendant intentionally touched the complainant’s genital area, groin, inner thigh, buttock, or breast or the clothing covering that area or made the complainant touch or permitted the complainant to touch their genital area, groin, inner thigh, buttock, or breast or the clothing covering that area.
  2. This was done for sexual purposes or could reasonably be construed as having been done for sexual purposes or in a sexual manner for revenge, to humiliate the complainant, or in anger.
  3. Any of the alternatives in M Crim JI 20.3–.11d, as warranted by the evidence, that apply.

c. Penalty 

A 2nd degree CSC is a felony punishable by prison for no more than 15 years.

In addition, the court must sentence the defendant to lifetime electronic monitoring if the violation involved sexual contact committed by an individual at least 17 years old against an individual under 13 years old. MCL 750.520c(2).

III. 3rd Degree CSC

 a. Statutory Authority
MCL 750.520d.

 b. Elements

  1. The defendant engaged in a sexual act that involved one of the following:
    a. entry into the complainant’s genital or anal opening by the defendant’s penis, finger, tongue, or object
    b. entry into the complainant’s mouth by the defendant’s penis
    c. touching of the complainant’s genital openings or organs with the defendant’s mouth or tongue
    d. entry by any part of one person’s body or some object into the genital or anal opening of another person’s body
  2. Any of the following as warranted by the evidence, may apply:
    a. The complainant was 13, 14, or 15 years old at the time of the alleged sexual penetration.
    b. The defendant used force or coercion to commit the sexual penetration.
    c. The complainant was mentally incapable, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless at the time of the sexual penetration.
    d. The complainant was related to the defendant by blood or affinity to the third degree.
    e. The complainant was at least age 16 but less than age 18 and was a student at a public or nonpublic school under circumstances listed in MCL 750.520d(1)(e).
    f. The complainant received special education services and was at least age 16 but less than age 26 under circumstances listed in MCL 750.520d(1)(f).
    g. The defendant’s status was one of those listed in MCL 750.520d(1)(g), the complainant was at least age 16, and the sexual penetration occurred during the complainant’s residency.

c. Penalty

 A 3rd degree CSC is a felony punishable by imprisonment for no more than 15 years. MCL 750.520d(2).

IV. 4th Degree CSC

 a. Statutory Authority
MCL 750.520e.

b. Elements

  1. The defendant intentionally touched the complainant’s genital area, groin, inner thigh, buttock, or breast or the clothing covering that area or made the complainant touch his or her genital area, groin, inner thigh, buttock, or breast or the clothing covering that area.
  2. This touching was done for sexual purposes or could reasonably be construed as having been done for sexual purposes.
  3. Any of the following, as warranted by the evidence, may apply:
    a. The complainant was 13, 14, or 15 years old and the defendant was 5 or more years older than the complainant at the time of the alleged sexual contact.
    b. The defendant used force or coercion to commit the sexual contact.
    c. The complainant was mentally incapable, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless at the time of the alleged act.
    d. The complainant was related to the defendant by blood or affinity to the third degree.
    e. The defendant was a mental health professional and the alleged sexual contact occurred during or within 2 years of the time the complainant was the defendant’s client or patient.
    f. The complainant was at least age 16 but less than age 18 and a student at a public or nonpublic school under circumstances listed in MCL 750.520e(1)(f).
    g. The complainant received special education services and was at least age 16 but less than age 26 under circumstances listed in MCL 750.520e(1)(g).
    h. The defendant’s status was one of those listed in MCL 750.520e(1)(h), the complainant was at least age 16, and the sexual contact occurred during the complainant’s residency.

c. Penalty

Unlike 1st-3rd degree CSC, 4th degree CSC is a high court misdemeanor punishable by

  • prison for no more than 2 years,
  • a fine of no more than $500,
  • or both. MCL 750.520e(2).

Are There Any Defenses to a Criminal Sexual Conduct Charge?

Below are the most common defenses used when an individual is accused of criminal sexual conduct. Again, please refer to Michigan’s model jury instructions for more detailed information. (See M Crim JI 20.1, 20.2, 20.12, and 20.13).

I. 1st Degree CSC

  • Consent
  • Innocence
  • Misidentification
  • Alibi

II. 2nd Degree CSC

  • Consent
  • Innocence
  • Accidental touching
  • Touching not done for a sexual purpose
  • Misidentification
  • Alibi

III. 3rd Degree CSC

  • Consent
  • Innocence
  • Misidentification
  • Alibi

IV. 4th Degree CSC

  • Consent
  • Innocence
  • Misidentification
  • Alibi
  • Touching not done for a sexual purpose

Do you have to register as a sex offender? What is SORA? What about the collateral consequences of a CSC charge?

At Van Den Heuvel Law Office, our Defense Attorneys are experienced in helping people protect their rights.  If you, or someone you know, have been accused of a criminal sexual crime (CSC), you need an advocate on your side who will actively fight for you. Don’t leave your freedom and rights to chance. Being required to register can be a terrible hardship. Call us today at 616-698-0000 or contact us here.

Contact a Knowledgeable Grand Rapids Attorney

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To talk with our attorney about your legal concerns, contact the Van Den Heuvel Law Office by calling 616-698-0000. You may also complete our online contact form. After-hours consultations are available by appointment. We are also available on Skype by appointment.

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