Sex Crimes Attorneys in Michigan
Without a doubt, a sex crime is one of the most horrific accusations that can be made against a person. It can destroy a family, a career, and a reputation. More importantly, it can lead to a serious criminal charge. Many sex crimes come with the potential for lengthy prison sentences, including life in prison. And even if you don’t serve jail or prison time, many sex crimes require you to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life. Many also require you to wear a tether and be electronically monitored by the government for the rest of your life. We’re not trying to scare you, we just want to give you the facts.
Let’s get one thing straight from the outset. A lot of our clients think that they are in the clear because their accuser has no “evidence” against them. That is, they have no physical evidence or witnesses to back up their story. But to a prosecutor, that doesn’t matter. Under Michigan law, all a prosecutor needs is an accuser’s word in order to convict you. Scary, right? In fact, most cases we see are purely “he-said, she-said” cases. And in this day and age, many prosecutors take a “believe the accuser at all costs” stance. You need to hire an experienced sex crimes attorney as soon as possible in order to defend yourself.
Our team has ample, successful experience handling all types of sex offense allegations.
Let’s be clear. We’re not saying that every sex crime allegation is false. But we know for a fact that there are an unsettling number of false allegations made each year. And even in cases where the allegation is true, there may be mitigating circumstances that should be taken into consideration in your case. Again, you’ll need the assistance of a seasoned sex crimes attorney.
Sex crimes in Michigan encompass numerous situations. Let’s look at some of the common offenses that we see.
How can they charge me a sex crime without any evidence in Michigan?
Yes, you can be charged with a sex crime without hard evidence. Say the charges against you are based solely on the accuser’s statements to police. In other words, there’s no “hard” evidence against you—no DNA, videos, witnesses, etc.—just the accuser’s word. Can they still charge you?
In Michigan, there’s a statute—MCL 750.520h—that specifically says “[t]he testimony of a victim need not be corroborated” in criminal sexual conduct cases. So, the accuser taking the stand and saying that you assaulted him or her is all the prosecutor needs to convict you, provided of course that the jury believes the accuser.
And this is not an unusual scenario. Many (if not most) sexual assault cases are he-said-she-said cases without hard evidence on either side. This is often because accusers don’t immediately report alleged assaults, and evidence—whether it’s DNA or witnesses’ memories—tends to degrade over time.
The goal, then, in a he-said-she-said sexual assault case is simple—undermine the credibility of the accuser. You need to go on the offensive and give the prosecutor, the judge, or the jury reason to believe the accuser should not be believed.
Should I take a polygraph examination if accused of a sex crime in Michigan?
No, you should not take a polygraph test if accused of sex crimes without first consulting your attorney. The police have informed you that a sexual assault allegation has been made against you. They ask if you’ll come in to take a polygraph examination. Should you?
Ordinarily, the police want you to sit down with a polygraph examiner from the Michigan State Police. Be warned: these examiners are not there to ascertain the truth. In most cases, they conduct the examination unscrupulously. Then they say you’ve failed. Then they try to extract a confession from you.
Before even thinking about taking a State Police polygraph examination, we advise all our clients to take a confidential examination with a private examiner. We work only with the highest caliber examiners who administer the examination correctly. If you pass, we receive a report we can share with the prosecutor, often the key to getting a case dismissed. If you fail, though, since the examination is confidential, no one ever finds out about it, a luxury you don’t have with a State Police test.
That said, there are cases where, after a successful private polygraph, it may make sense to agree to the State Police polygraph. But any such decision needs to be made in consultation with a knowledgeable attorney.
Criminal Sexual Conduct
In Michigan, most sex crimes are generally referred to in the law as “criminal sexual conduct” or “CSC.” There are four degrees, first-degree being the most serious and fourth-degree being the least serious. Very generally speaking, the degree depends on the age of the accuser and whether the alleged sexual activity included penetration of a bodily orifice or only a sexual touching. There are also several aggravating factors, such as the relationship between the accuser and the defendant and whether the sexual activity was consensual.
The age of consent in Michigan is 16 (for the time being, we’ll leave aside certain exceptions that would criminalize sex with someone who’s aged 16 or older, such as if the accuser is a student of the defendant). So yes, if you’re a 17-year-old boy and you have sex with your 15-year-old girlfriend, you’ve just committed a felony. In most instances, you could be charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Seems extreme, right? Michigan law has provisions to allow you to avoid a felony record and even avoid having to register as a sex offender. Consult a sex crimes attorney as soon as possible.
Child Pornography/Child Sexually Abusive Material
In Michigan, possessing child pornography is generally referred to as possession of child sexually abusive material, or CSAM. Prosecutors take these charges very seriously. But you may have a solid defense. Was the material downloaded intentionally? Was it downloaded by someone else? Who had access to the computer? There are many different avenues we’ll need to explore to come up with the best defense in your case.
Child molestation charges are also taken very seriously by prosecutors. They often relentlessly pursue even weak cases. If you were to ask most practicing criminal defense attorneys, they’d probably say that they’d rather be accused of murder than child molestation. Grabel & Associates has tackled a lot of these cases and successfully gotten cases dismissed as well as not guilty verdicts at trial. We know what defenses work in these cases and how we can help you prove your innocence.
Sex Crimes Against Minors
Unfortunately, it seems that we’re seeing more of these cases each year. In today’s world, many adolescents are gaining sexual knowledge at an early age, and they know how to use an allegation of a sex crime against someone. Stepparents are especially vulnerable. We’ve had cases where we later learned that the motive for the accusation was that the minor didn’t want to live with the stepparent anymore. It happens more often than you think. You’ll need a good defense team on your side.
Teacher Sex Abuse
Teachers are particularly vulnerable to allegations of sexual abuse. Again, children are becoming sexually aware at an increasingly young age, and they know that they can sometimes wield a sexual assault allegation to get what they want. Very often, the person in their crosshairs is a teacher they dislike. Don’t let a false accusation ruin your career.
“Sexual assault” is an umbrella that covers many different kinds of allegations. Although most people think of a violent attack, sexual assault can also refer to instances of so-called “date rape.” It can also refer to instances of consensual sexual activity if one of the participants was under the age of consent—i.e., statutory rape. Most cases will be classified as some degree of criminal sexual conduct (CSC). Whatever the specifics of your case, an allegation of sexual assault can be life altering, and you need an experienced defense team.
Indecent exposure generally involves the knowing exposure of a person’s private parts. You can be charged with aggravated indecent exposure if you also fondle your private parts. Yes, if you get caught urinating in public, you can be charged with indecent exposure. And if you’re convicted, you may end up on the sex offender registry. If you’re accused or charged with indecent exposure, you need to take it seriously.
Prostitution and Solicitation
Prostitution, as we all know, generally involves paying someone for sex. Solicitation involves accepting the earnings of a prosecutor. Both are serious sex crimes that carry the potential for jail time and having to register as a sex offender.
Sex Crime Appeals
Often, a sex crime case can yield fertile ground for an appeal. For a variety of somewhat complicated reasons, sex crimes appeals have dimensions that other appeals simply don’t. In general, this means increased opportunities for success. For instance, cases have been overturned based on inadmissible hearsay testimony, police testimony that vouches for an accuser, and improper expert opinion testimony. These types of issues wouldn’t get traction in most other appeals. In 2017, we won an appeal in a sex crime case in the Michigan Supreme Court. That client is now on the National Registry of Exonerations.
The Sex Offender Registry
The sex offender registry in Michigan is a complex and punitive system that can severely affect your life. Your picture, address, and criminal history are plastered on the internet. You can’t live or work near schools. You need to register in-person with the police. All in all, being on the registry can be humiliating. Our mission in any sex crime case is to avoid, to the maximum extent possible, any sex offender registry repercussions. And in right case, if you’re already on the registry, we may be able to petition the court to have you removed.
Lifetime Electronic Monitoring
Everyone always talks about the sex offender registry, but there’s another common consequence of a sex crime that doesn’t get as much attention—lifetime electronic monitoring. In many sex crime cases, the defendant will also be sentenced to “lifetime electronic monitoring.” That is, you’ll have to wear a tether and be monitored by the government for the rest of your life, even after you’ve served your sentence. In other words, Big Brother is watching you. This is another consideration that needs to be at the forefront in any sex crime case.
We have many tried and true strategies in sex crime cases. Without giving away too much of our strategy, here are some of the things we’ll be looking at in your case:
- Does the accuser have a motive to fabricate the accusations?
- Has the accuser ever accused anyone else before?
- Did the accuser undergo suggestive questioning, which can lead to a false memory being implanted?
- Did the police make any mistakes in their investigation?
- Did the police properly handle physical evidence ?
For an experience criminal defense attorney, a sex crime case can have many opportunities.
Contact Us Right Away
If you’ve been accused or charged with CSC or any other sex crime, contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. If you’re being accused, we can help you prove your innocence and avoid criminal charges. If you’ve already been charged, we can work toward getting the case dismissed or reduced. Contact us online or call us at our 24/7 defense hotline at 1-800-342-7896 now.