Michigan Criminal Law: Sex Crimes; Sexual Conduct Charges, “CSC’s”

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Michigan law prohibits certain types of behavior related to sexual activity. These series of laws are collectively known as “criminal sexual conduct” or CSC charges. The charges vary significantly depending upon the alleged conduct.

These charges may fall under various different sections; however the “criminal sexual conduct” section of Michigan’s penal code, MCL 750.520-520n is fairly comprehensive. Penalties if convicted depend on the alleged conduct and range from misdemeanors to capitol charges. Further, charges under this code may also require registration pursuant to SORA; see MCL 750.520b (2)(a-d);(Sex Offender Registration Act, MCL 295.723 et. seq.) and up to lifetime monitoring.

The following is a list of some of the more commonly charged “CSC” offenses:

Criminal Sexual Conduct, First Degree, MCL 750.520b is the most serious of these charges. This is a “capitol offense,” meaning a person convicted may be looking at up to life in prison, and, in certain situations, a mandatory minimum sentence of at-least twenty-five years up to life in prison if convicted. MCL 750.520b (2)(a-d).  The crux of this charge is non-consensual sexual penetration of another person. MCL 750.520b (1).

Who may provide consent is often key issue with these charges. A lot of alleged victims may not be in a position to legally provide consent so their consent is not a consideration for this charge.  For example, consent is not an issue if the alleged victim’s a minor and under the age of thirteen or if the alleged victim is a minor between 13 and 16, and:

(i) The actor is a member of the same household as the victim.

(ii) The actor is related to the victim by blood or affinity to the fourth degree.

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

(iv) The actor 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.

(v) The actor 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.

(vi) The actor 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.

MCL 750.520b (1)(a,b-vi). 

Other examples are noted in MCL 750.520b (2)(c,d,i-h, i-ii), including situations where an alleged victim is incapacitated, threatened by force by the accused, overwhelmed by the accused, et. al. The list of situations is fairly comprehensive.

Criminal Sexual Conduct Second Degree, MCL 750.520c is a slightly less severe, but similar charge to Criminal Sexual Conduct, First Degree. Convictions for this charge may include up to fifteen years in prison, assuming the alleged defendant is not charged as a habitual offender, and up to lifetime monitoring and SORA registration. See MCL 750.520c (2)(a-b). The crux of this charge is whether non-consensual sexual contact occurred with another person and if the alleged situation occurred under a variety of different potential scenarios. The key distinguishing factor between this charge and Criminal Sexual Conduct, First Degree, is the term “sexual contact.” For definitions, please review MCL 750.520a.   Consent, again, is another huge issue, the following list of describes circumstances, such as:

(a) That other person is under 13 years of age.

(b) That other person is at least 13 but less than 16 years of age and any of the following:

(i) The actor is a member of the same household as the victim.

(ii) The actor is related by blood or affinity to the fourth degree to the victim.

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

(iv) The actor 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.

(v) The actor 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.

(vi) The actor 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.

 

MCL 750.520c (1)(a,b-vi).

Other examples are noted in MCL 750.520c (1)(c-i), including situations where an alleged victim is incapacitated, threatened by force by the accused, overwhelmed by the accused, et. al. The list of situations is fairly comprehensive. Again, the key issue here is whether there was non-consensual sexual contact.

Sexual Conduct Third Degree, MCL 750.520d is factually similar charge to Criminal Sexual Conduct First Degree; however, it has a few important distinguishing characteristics which make the penalties if convicted less severe than the capital charge, Criminal Sexual Conduct First Degree. Convictions for this charge may include up to fifteen years in prison, assuming the alleged defendant is not charged as a habitual offender, SORA registration, and other penalties; however, lifetime monitoring is not expressly included under this charge. See MCL 750.520d (2).

The statute reads as follows:

(1) A person is guilty of criminal sexual conduct in the third degree if the person engages in sexual penetration with another person and if any of the following circumstances exist:

(a) That other person is at least 13 years of age and under 16 years of age.

(b) Force or coercion is used to accomplish the sexual penetration. Force or coercion includes but is not limited to any of the circumstances listed in section 520b(1)(f)(i) to (v).

(c) The actor knows or has reason to know that the victim is mentally incapable, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless.

(d) That other person is related to the actor by blood or affinity to the third degree and the sexual penetration occurs under circumstances not otherwise prohibited by this chapter. It is an affirmative defense to a prosecution under this subdivision that the other person was in a position of authority over the defendant and used this authority to coerce the defendant to violate this subdivision. The defendant has the burden of proving this defense by a preponderance of the evidence. This subdivision does not apply if both persons are lawfully married to each other at the time of the alleged violation.

(e) That other person is at least 16 years of age but less than 18 years of age and a student at a public school or nonpublic school, and either of the following applies:

(i) The actor is a teacher, substitute teacher, or administrator of that public school, nonpublic school, school district, or intermediate school district. This subparagraph does not apply if the other person is emancipated or if both persons are lawfully married to each other at the time of the alleged violation.

(ii) The actor 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.

(f) That other person is at least 16 years old but less than 26 years of age and is receiving special education services, and either of the following applies:

(i) The actor is a teacher, substitute teacher, administrator, employee, or contractual service provider of the public school, nonpublic school, school district, or intermediate school district from which that other person receives the special education services. This subparagraph does not apply if both persons are lawfully married to each other at the time of the alleged violation.

(ii) The actor 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.

(g) The actor 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, that other person is at least 16 years of age, and the sexual penetration occurs during 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.

 

As noted above, factually, charges for Criminal Sexual Conduct, Third Degree, may be very similar to charges for Criminal Sexual Conduct, First Degree. However, there are a few key differences.

Most notably, any alleged sexual penetration with an alleged victim between the ages of thirteen and sixteen falls under this charge because an alleged minor in this age range may not provide consent. In contrast, charges for Criminal Sexual Conduct First Degree are only applicable to alleged victims in this age range if the alleged act falls into the categories listed in MCL 750.520b (1)(a,b-vi).

Criminal Sexual Conduct, Fourth Degree, MCL 750.520e is factually similar to Criminal Sexual Conduct, Second Degree; however, it also has certain key distinguishing features which mean that penalties for conviction of this charge are the least severe out of all the charges listed above. This charge is a misdemeanor. If convicted, a person may be sentenced “by imprisonment for not more than 2 years or a fine of not more than $500.00, or both,”MCL 750.520e (2) probation, possible SORA requirements, or other sanctions.

The statute reads as follows:

(1) A person is guilty of criminal sexual conduct in the fourth degree if he or she engages in sexual contact with another person and if any of the following circumstances exist:

(a) That other person is at least 13 years of age but less than 16 years of age, and the actor is 5 or more years older than that other person.

(b) Force or coercion is used to accomplish the sexual contact. Force or coercion includes, but is not limited to, any of the following circumstances:

(i) When the actor overcomes the victim through the actual application of physical force or physical violence.

(ii) 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 that threat.

(iii) 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 that threat. As used in this subparagraph, “to retaliate” includes threats of physical punishment, kidnapping, or extortion.

(iv) When the actor engages in the medical treatment or examination of the victim in a manner or for purposes which are medically recognized as unethical or unacceptable.

(v) When the actor achieves the sexual contact through concealment or by the element of surprise.

(c) The actor knows or has reason to know that the victim is mentally incapable, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless.

(d) That other person is related to the actor by blood or affinity to the third degree and the sexual contact occurs under circumstances not otherwise prohibited by this chapter. It is an affirmative defense to a prosecution under this subdivision that the other person was in a position of authority over the defendant and used this authority to coerce the defendant to violate this subdivision. The defendant has the burden of proving this defense by a preponderance of the evidence. This subdivision does not apply if both persons are lawfully married to each other at the time of the alleged violation.

(e) The actor is a mental health professional and the sexual contact occurs during or within 2 years after the period in which the victim is his or her client or patient and not his or her spouse. The consent of the victim is not a defense to a prosecution under this subdivision. A prosecution under this subsection shall not be used as evidence that the victim is mentally incompetent.

(f) That other person is at least 16 years of age but less than 18 years of age and a student at a public school or nonpublic school, and either of the following applies:

(i) The actor is a teacher, substitute teacher, or administrator of that public school, nonpublic school, school district, or intermediate school district. This subparagraph does not apply if the other person is emancipated or if both persons are lawfully married to each other at the time of the alleged violation.

(ii) The actor 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.

(g) That other person is at least 16 years old but less than 26 years of age and is receiving special education services, and either of the following applies:

(i) The actor is a teacher, substitute teacher, administrator, employee, or contractual service provider of the public school, nonpublic school, school district, or intermediate school district from which that other person receives the special education services. This subparagraph does not apply if both persons are lawfully married to each other at the time of the alleged violation.

(ii) The actor 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.

(h) The actor 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, that other person is at least 16 years of age, and the sexual contact occurs during 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.

 

MCL 750.520e.

Similar to the differences between Criminal Sexual Conduct, First Degree and Third Degree, a key distinction with this charge is the age-range of the alleged victim. Consent is a significant element. Criminal Sexual Conduct Fourth Degree prohibits any sexual contact if the alleged victim is between the ages of thirteen and sixteen and the alleged actor is five years or older than the alleged victim. MCL 750.520e (1)(a)In contrast, charges for Criminal Sexual Conduct, Second Degree for alleged sexual contact for an alleged victim between the ages 13 and 16 is only appropriate if the alleged circumstances meets the criteria listed in MCL 750.520c (2)(b)(i-vi). 

The following is a only a partial list of the possible sexual-conduct related charges. There are older statutes and different provisions of the Michigan Penal code which also may the basis for charges related to alleged sexual conduct. More information will be posted on these different kinds in the future.

Our experienced and dedicated attorneys have represented clients regarding a variety of CSC charges throughout the state of Michigan. We fight hard for our clients. For a free initial consultation, please call our Lansing office at (517) 507-5077.

If you need specific legal advice for your particular circumstances, I encourage you to privately consult with a lawyer. Any charged with a criminal offense is presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The following series of posts is for general educational purposes only. Circumstances may vary significantly. If you need specific legal advice, please privately consult with a lawyer.