Sexual Assault Attorneys In Michigan
Today, “sexual assault” can be used to refer to almost any kind of unwanted sexual conduct. For a lot of people, though, the term sexual assault brings to mind violent and forcible sexual conduct. Here, we’ll consider sexual assault in this more traditional sense.
Although it’s common to read in the newspaper that someone has been charged with a sexual assault, in Michigan, there’s technically no crime called “sexual assault.” Instead, Michigan refers to most sex crimes as “criminal sexual conduct.” Our sex crime attorneys take a closer look.
Criminal Sexual Conduct
In Michigan, criminal sexual conduct or “CSC” is divided into four degrees, first-degree (CSC-I) being the most serious and fourth-degree (CSC-IV) being the least serious. Generally speaking, the law separates sexual conduct into two categories—"sexual penetration” and “sexual contact.”
“Sexual penetration” is defined in the law 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 . . . .”
“Sexual contact,” on the other hand, is defined in the law to include “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 . . . .”
CSC-I and CSC-III involve sexual penetration while CSC-II and CSC-IV involve sexual contact. There are several ways to commit each degree of CSC. Here, we’ll consider each degree within the context of “sexual assault” as most people use that phrase.
If you use force or coercion to sexually penetrate another person and that person suffers personal injury, this constitutes CSC-I. It’s important to define the key phrases. “Force or coercion” includes, but is not limited to, any of the following:
- “When the actor overcomes the victim through the actual application of physical force or physical violence.”
- “When the actor coerces the victim to submit by threatening to use force or violence on the victim, and the victim believes that the actor has the present ability to execute these threats.”
- “When the actor coerces the victim to submit by threatening to retaliate in the future against the victim, or any other person, and the victim believes that the actor has the ability to execute this threat. As used in this subdivision, ‘to retaliate’ includes threats of physical punishment, kidnapping, or extortion.”
- “When the actor engages in the medical treatment or examination of the victim in a manner or for purposes that are medically recognized as unethical or unacceptable.”
- “When the actor, through concealment or by the element of surprise, is able to overcome the victim.”
“Personal injury” is defined by the law as “bodily injury, disfigurement, mental anguish, chronic pain, pregnancy, disease, or loss or impairment of a sexual or reproductive organ.”
In practice, if there’s an allegation that the sexual penetration was accomplished with force or coercion, it is exceedingly easy for the prosecutor to charge it as a CSC-I. Most accusers will allege that they suffered some “bodily injury” or “mental anguish” as a result of the alleged assault. The ease with which an alleged sexual assault can be charged as a CSC-I is significant because CSC-I is a capital offense, punishable by up to life in prison. CSC-I is also punishable by a lifetime on the sex offender registry and lifetime electronic monitoring upon release from prison.
If you use force or coercion to accomplish sexual contact and the person suffers a personal injury, this constitutes CSC-II. The definitions of “force or coercion” and “personal injury” are the same as for CSC-I. CSC-II is a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison, lifetime sex offender registration, and lifetime electronic monitoring upon release from prison.
CSC-III involves sexual penetration accomplished with force or coercion. Unlike CSC-I, there’s no requirement that the victim suffer any kind of injury. CSC-III is a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison and lifetime sex offender registration.
CSC-IV involves sexual contact accomplished with force or coercion. There’s no requirement that the victim suffer any kind of injury. CSC-IV is technically labeled a misdemeanor, although it’s still punishable by up to 2 years in prison and 25 years on the sex offender registry.
Contact Us Right Away
This is just an overview of Michigan laws on “sexual assault” as that phrase is commonly understood. There are several other kinds of sex crimes and several other ways to commit each degree of CSC. Every case is unique, and if you’re accused or charged with any kind of sex crime, you need the assistance of an experienced and knowledgeable attorney.
If you’re facing sexual assault charges, contact us online or call us at our 24/7 defense hotline at 1-800-342-7896.