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Elements of Michigan's sexual assault statute

As with other serious crimes, Michigan’s criminal code divides different forms of sexual misconduct into four degrees of severity. Depending on what the prosecution claims the defendant did, he or she could face a relatively light prison sentence, up to a life sentence. Registration on the state sex offender list may also be at stake, based on what level of sex crime you are charged with.

The lowest level of criminal sexual conduct (CSC) in Michigan is fourth degree, which is a misdemeanor. This involves sexual contact that included force, coercion, victim incapacity, or the fact that the defendant works for the Department of Corrections and the victim is an inmate. The maximum penalty for fourth degree CSC is two years in prison and a fine of $500.

Third-degree CSC is more serious. The law requires proof of sexual penetration and any of the following: the victim is 13-15 years old, force or coercion, or the victim was incapacitated. This is the first felony-level CSC crime, so the maximum sentence jumps to 15 years, and a conviction means inclusion on the sex offender registry.

Next is second-degree CSC. This has the same level of potential penalty as third degree, but the elements are different. It is basically first-degree CSC, but involving sexual contact with certain body parts, stopping short of penetration.

Finally, first-degree CSC is a sexual act involving penetration and any one of several other elements. These include a victim who is under 13; a victim who is 13-15 and is related by blood to the defendant, lives in the defendant’s household, or is under the defendant’s authority somehow; personal injury and force or coercion; or personal injury and the victim was incapacitated.

As you can see, even a charge of fourth-degree sexual assault is very serious. A defense attorney can help protect a sex crime suspect’s rights throughout the process.

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