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First Degree Criminal Sexual Act: What You Need to Know

Blank Law, PC Team

First Degree Criminal Sexual Act: What You Need to Know

First Degree Criminal Sexual Act

In Michigan, first degree criminal sexual conduct is an extremely serious sex offense. The more common names for this criminal sexual act are sexual assault or rape. It also includes criminal sexual activity like child molestation, child rape (see: what is statutory rape), and sexual assault that involves someone who is mentally or physically disabled.

What are the Potential Penalties for First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct?

If you are convicted of criminal sexual conduct 1st degree, the potential penalties you face include:

  • Up to life in prison
  • Court costs and other fines
  • State-managed Michigan lifetime electronic monitoring
  • Being listed as a sex offender on your criminal record
  • Denial or loss of employment
  • Denial of applications to rent a house or restrictions related to where you can live
  • Losing custody of your children
  • Inability to receive a professional license
  • Immigration status impacts if you are not a U.S. citizen

A sex offense charge, especially the serious ones like first degree criminal sexual conduct, is usually complicated and could even put family members and former spouses or partners against one another. When you are arrested for or accused of sexual assault or other sex crimes, your community often has a presumption of guilt. This is especially true if the criminal sexual act involved a minor, no matter what the facts say.

If you have been arrested for sexual assault or another first degree criminal sexual crime, you need a criminal sexual conduct attorney who can help build strong sexual assault defense strategies for your case. This will help you with your case and help you achieve the most agreeable outcome for your situation.

You do not have to wait until you have been charged with criminal sexual conduct to hire a Michigan sex crimes attorney. You need an attorney with you when you are questioned to ensure your rights are not violated and that what you say is not taken out of context (see: what happens if I don’t talk to a detective).

Understanding First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct Charges

You will find that first degree criminal sexual conduct is defined as different sexual actions and outlined by MCL 750.520(b). The sex crimes this includes are:

  • Sexual penetration of a person under 13 years of age
  • Sexual penetration of a child between the ages of 13 and 16 who lives in your home, related to you within the fourth degree, or that you have a position of authority over and can coerce sexual penetration with
  • Sexual penetration of someone while committing another type of felony, including a violent felony offense
  • Sexual penetration of someone while you have a weapon or if the alleged victim believes you have a weapon
  • Causing a personal injury while using physical force to achieve sexual penetration
  • Causing a personal injury to someone with a disability while you use coercion or physical force to achieve sexual penetration

What is Coercion or Force?

In Michigan, the law defines force or coercion as using violence or physical force or threats of violence or force. Another situation that applies to this includes threats of retaliation or using surprise to overcome your alleged victim.

Personal Injury Caused by Mental and Physical Anguish

If sexual penetration occurs in a criminal sexual act, it is either charged as criminal sexual conduct first degree or criminal sexual conduct 3rd degree. However, for the prosecution to lawfully charge someone with criminal sexual conduct first degree rather than third degree, there must be aggravating factors. One example is coercion or force that causes a personal injury to the victim.

Personal injury includes mental anguish and physical injuries. In Michigan, the definition of personal injury is broad and has recently been refined based on case law.

In cases of sexual assault, personal injury can be minor, such as welts, scratches, bruises, and other marks on the victim’s groin, shoulders, wrists, or hands. There are also cases where other things that are not usually thought of as an injury, like pregnancy, can satisfy the personal injury requirement.

If the prosecution decides to use mental anguish to prove personal injury, the evidence they may use is typically just testimony from the victim regarding their mental state. Types of evidence include the victim crying, upset, or even hysterical after the criminal sexual act occurs. Another type of evidence they can use is that the victim sought psychiatric care after the sexual abuse or sexual assault that occurred.

Other aggravating factors also occur, which can lead to first degree criminal sexual charges. One is if the aggravated sexual abuse was in an authority position to the accident victim. It is best to work with an experienced sex crimes defense lawyer to understand what aggravating factors will be looked at by the prosecution. It is a good idea to hire an attorney as early as possible to develop an attorney-client relationship that will help you achieve the best possible outcome for your sexual assault cases. Learn how much a sex offender lawyer costs here.

Why Sexual Penetration Matters in Criminal Sexual Conduct Charges

There are four degrees of criminal sexual conduct. The difference in these depends on if the sex offense you are charged with involves sexual penetration or just offensive touching. Accusations of sexual penetration result in a first degree criminal sexual conduct or criminal sexual conduct 3rd degree Michigan charge. Allegations of sexual contact will result in a criminal sexual conduct 2nd degree or criminal sexual conduct 4th degree charge.

Under these laws, sexual penetration means different things under Michigan law. Beyond the typical charge of sexual intercourse, the Penal Code in Michigan considers the following to be instances of sexual penetration, too:

  • Anal sexual conduct
  • Oral sexual conduct
  • Insertion of any object of the anal or genital area of someone else
  • Virtual penetration (an example of this is a finger inserted in the vagina)

It is important to note that if extenuating factors are involved in the case involving a criminal sexual act, such as physically incapacitated sexual penetration, if the victim was physically helpless at the time of the sexual abuse, or the use of a controlled substance to achieve criminal sexual conduct, then the penalties can be more extreme and even stronger criminal sexual conduct defense will be necessary.

Specific Information About Penalties for a Conviction of First Degree Criminal Sexual Assault

You have a lot on the line when you face charges related to a criminal sexual act. Having an attorney with whom you can share confidential or sensitive information is important to help you build a defense. The attorney-client relationship you create will provide you with someone who can help you avoid the serious penalties described here.

A conviction of first degree criminal sexual conduct is considered a felony in the state of Michigan. With this charge, the CSC 1st degree Michigan penalty can be up to life in prison; however, there are certain sentencing requirements if the victim was a minor when the incident occurred:

  • If the victim was under 13 and you were at least 17 at the time of the incident, the minimum required sentence is 25 years in prison
  • If the victim was under 13 and you were at least 18 when the incident occurred, you must be monitored electronically for the rest of your life

If you are convicted of a sex crime based on these laws, you may also have to register as a sex offender on the Michigan Sex Offender Registry. Additionally, the crime will be on your permanent criminal record. In situations where the alleged victim was physically helpless, you may face additional charges.

Penalties for Habitual Offenders

If you have been convicted of a sex crime or sexual abuse in the past in the state of Michigan for a first, second, or third degree criminal sexual conduct, a subsequent or second conviction requires that you receive a prison sentence of at least five years. You could also be considered to be a habitual offender if you have a former conviction in any other state for gross indecency, indecent liberties, carnal knowledge, or rape. It also applies to an attempt to commit these crimes.

How to Defend a First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct Charge

In any type of sexual assault or rape case, the burden is on the prosecutor to prove you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. While this is not an absolute standard, it can be challenging. There are several ways the prosecution will try to make their version of events seem like what really happened. This is done via the victims testimony, DNA samples, and other forensic evidence. Learn what is a forensic interview here.

Some rape and criminal sexual act allegations will come down to a case of “he said, she said.” This is especially the case if the victim failed to come forward immediately and there is minimal or no physical evidence that supports the prosecution’s story. Hiring a quality CSC defense attorney means you have someone searching for the holes or inconsistencies in the prosecution’s story. In many sex offense cases, there are several inconsistencies. This is how your attorney will build your defense and tell your side of what happened.

If the prosecution presents any physical evidence that works to support the allegation that you are guilty of a sex crime, then the evidence must be interpreted to show how sexual assault occurred. Evidence must be analyzed and processed, and mistakes can be made at any point in this process. For example, DNA samples could be contaminated, which causes inaccurate results. Also, the victim may claim they were physically helpless during the incident when they were not.

The presence of DNA does not always tell the story that the prosecutor hopes it will. For example, if there is a pre-existing relationship between you and the victim, there could be several reasons your DNA is present besides sexual assault. This will create reasonable doubt in many cases.

Hiring a Michigan sex crimes attorney will help understand the best way to use evidence in these sex crime cases, the most effective way to challenge any expert testimony, and the best way to find experts to help examine the evidence to share your side of the story.

Do Not Wait to Hire a Michigan Sexual Assault Attorney for Your Case

If you face first degree criminal sexual assault charges, do not wait to hire an experienced attorney to help with your defense. The attorney you hire needs time to gather and investigate the evidence and build a solid defense for your case. This will help ensure you get the best possible defense for your charges.

Do you need help or information with your Michigan criminal sexual act case? If so, contact Attorney Nicole Blank Becker by calling (248) 515-6583 to schedule a free consultation. During this consultation, you can learn more about what penalties you may face for the crime you have been charged with.

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