Criminal Sexual Conduct First Degree Attorneys in Michigan

If you there is a possibility that you may be facing criminal sexual assault charges in the first degree, then you are undoubtedly worried about the uncertainties of the future. These are serious charges. There are more than 3,000 such incidences of criminal sexual conduct first degree in Michigan every year. Many of these reports are fictitious and are motivated by money from a civil suit or revenge for personal grievances. Hiring an experienced CSC attorney is essential to your defense.

When these fabricated charges arise, it can truly be the most crushing blow a person should ever have to face in their lifetime. The penalties and social stigma of a criminal sexual conduct first degree accusation and sex offender registration are the most severe the criminal justice system and society have to offer. Thankfully, our sex crime attorneys have successfully dealt with false accusations of criminal sexual conduct first degree before, and we understand what it takes to exonerate a person and clear them of all charges. Polygraphs can be a useful tool in uncovering the truth. This section is meant to be an educational resource for anyone wishing to learn more about criminal sexual conduct first degree and the circumstances and penalties related to the charge. Our lawyers will take an in depth look at criminal sexual conduct first degree, and then discuss what we can do to start moving in a positive direction toward clearing you of all charges.

Specific Sexual Penetration with Force and Coercion

There are two primary elements that are crucial for a criminal sexual conduct first degree charge to move forward, and therefore, disproving the elements provide the broad outline for a strong defense. The first involves the nature of the contact and is specifically sexual penetration, and the second is the presence of an aggravating circumstance such as force, coercion, and personal injury. Sexual penetration is described in MCL 7520a(r) as sexual intercourse, cunnilingus, fellatio, anal intercourse, or any other intrusion, however slight of any person’s body or any object into the genital or anal openings of another person.

Personal Injury – Physical and Mental Anguish

If there is sexual penetration, then criminal sexual conduct third degree and criminal sexual conduct first degree are the charges the prosecutor has available. However, to lawfully charge a person with criminal sexual conduct first degree instead of criminal sexual conduct third degree there must be certain aggravating factors. A specific example of aggravating factors is the presence force and coercion that results in personal injury. Personal injury has been held to include both physical injuries and mental anguish. Consequently, the definition of personal injury is extremely broad and has been refined by case law.

Personal injury can be slight and include bruises, scratches, welts or other marks on the hands, wrists, shoulders, and groin. However, there have also been cases where the other things not traditionally thought of as an injury, like a pregnancy, has been held to satisfy the personal injury element.

If the prosecution uses mental anguish as a means of proving personal injury, then evidence can be testimony from the accuser as to their mental state. Evidence that the victim was upset, crying, or hysterical after the incident or sought psychiatric care after the incident can support a finding of personal injury. However, the prosecution is still required to prove a rational jury would find enough evidence presented to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that the other person suffered personal injury.

There are many other aggravating factors most of which are characterized by the abuse of an authority position. It is important to understand which set of aggravating factors the prosecutor will be seeking to prove at trial to effectively counter the evidence with a valid defense.

Elevating Charges to Criminal Sexual Conduct First Degree

If the following statutorily defined aggravating factors are present, then the prosecutor can charge a person with criminal sexual conduct first degree instead of criminal sexual conduct third degree for crimes involving penetration. The Michigan supreme court that if the court does not find conviction for the offense that was charged, it can still find a conviction for one of the lesser or “inferior” degrees. Consequently, a person could be charged with criminal sexual conduct first degree, but even if the prosecutor fails to prove his or her burden for the charge, the court can still find a conviction for the lesser offense of criminal sexual conduct third degree.

When the Other Person is Under 13 Years of Age

An act of penetration against a minor is a gravely serious crime in Michigan, and if the minor is under 13, then the only charge the prosecutor will use is criminal sexual conduct first degree. The state legislature has determined the protection of young children is of the highest priority, and consequently, violations of MCL 750.520d under this circumstance have the most serious penalties that can be applied in the state of Michigan. A conviction in these circumstance by someone 17 years or older will result in a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison, and a second offense will result in life in prison without the possibility of parole. Therefore, if you have been accused of this offense you will need to bring every available resource to bear to fight these charges and clear your name. In particular, hire a seasoned and successful CSC first degree attorney.

Family Member and Authority Figures: When the Other Person is at Least 13, but Less Than 16 Years of Age

The next category or aggravating factors that will elevate a penetration offense from a criminal sexual conduct third degree charge to a criminal sexual conduct first degree are when the person is at least 13 years of age, but under 16 years of age and one of the following relationships of authority apply. The state legislature has implemented categories of circumstances based on the type of relationship and proximity a person has to a minor. Most of these categories relate to a position of authority.

The first such circumstance is when the other person is a member of the same household, or is related by blood or familial affinity in at least the fourth degree. If these circumstances apply and the age range fits, then the charge can be proven. However, for the next set of circumstances there is a requirement that not only the type of relationship of authority existed, but also that the position of authority was utilized to coerce the other person to submit to the acts. The prime example of this set of circumstances is when the person being accused is a teacher or employee of the school, and the other person is enrolled at the same school. Similar circumstances such as child care organizations, foster families, contractual service providers also apply.

Assault During the Commission of Another Felony or An Offense While Armed with a Weapon

There are numerous other provisions described in MCL 750.520b that could count as aggravating circumstances when the other person is older than 13 years of age, but less than 16 years of age. For example, if the sexual penetration occurs during the commission of any other felony. However, it has been held that the other felony must be related to the alleged victim in some way. This could be sexually assaultive conduct that occurs during the commission of a home invasion. If a person is accused of being armed with a weapon or anything fashioned so the accuser would reasonably believe it was a weapon, then it would also qualify as an aggravating circumstance that could elevate a charge to criminal sexual conduct first degree.

Mentally Incapable, Mental Incapacity, or Being Physically Helpless and Under the Age of 16, but Older Than 13

There are another three instances that qualify for a criminal sexual conduct first degree charge when the person accused knows, or has reason to know, that the other person is mentally incapable, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless. However, in each of the instances there is also an additional distinct requirement. The first additional requirement is when the other person is physically injured. Next, if the person is mentally incapable, incapacitated, or physically helpless, and the accused is related to the person by blood or fourth degree familial affinity. Finally, if the other person is mentally incapable, mentally incapacitated, and the accused is in a position of authority over the other person and uses their authority to submit.

In all of these instances a prosecuting attorney can attempt to prove a criminal sexual conduct first degree conviction if they can prove the aggravating circumstance and the sexual penetration of a person under 16 years of age, but older than 13 years or age. The language of the statute specifies that if the person “knew or had reason to know” the other person was mentally incapable, mentally incapacitated or physically helpless. Courts have held that the trier of fact must use an objective reasonable person standard in determining whether someone should have known the other person was mentally incapable, mentally incapacitated or physically helpless. Consequently, a person could subjectively think the other person was not mentally incapable, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless, but if a reasonable person under the same circumstances would believe the person was, then the prosecution can still prove the defendant knew or reasonably should have known the other person was mentally incapable, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless. Practically, this means that the real argument that must be made if this fact is in dispute is that a reasonable person in the same situation would not have known the other person was mentally incapable, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless.

Aiding and Abetting a Crime

There is also a specific circumstance described when there is one or more additional people that aids and abets the accused, and either of the following circumstances also exist in the commission of an alleged penetration offense. If the person knows that the other person is mentally incapable, incapacitated, or physically helpless, and is aided and abetted by another person the charge can be elevated from a criminal sexual conduct third degree to a criminal sexual conduct first degree. Also, the charge can be elevated if the accused is aided and abetted by one or more people and there is an element of force or coercion. The definitions for force and coercion are described in more detail below.

Five Circumstances of Force and Coercion

Force and coercion along with the incidences of personal injury will elevate a crime of sexual penetration from a criminal sexual conduct third degree to criminal sexual conduct first degree. There are five specific instances of force and coercion that would qualify a set of circumstances to be charged as a criminal sexual conduct first degree. First, if the person overcomes the other person through the application of physical force or violence. Also, if the person coerces the accuser to submit by threatening to use force or violence. However, for this qualification to be met, then the accuser must believe that the person has the present ability to carry out the threats.

The third circumstance is when the person coerces the accuser to submit by threatening to use force or violence at some point in the future, and the accuser believes the person has the ability to execute these threats. This would be a situation where someone threatened that if the person did not comply with their demands to submit to the act, then they would harm them in the future and the other person believed they would follow through. Next, if the person uses concealment or surprise to overcome the victim, such as lying in wait. Finally, if the person engages in a medical treatment or examination of the other person that are medically considered unethical or unacceptable. There is a long list of specific aggravating circumstances, but the important elements are force and coercion accompanied by personal injury. Consequently, if it can be shown that any of these elements are not present, then the prosecution will be unable to reach a conviction.

Penalties for Criminal Sexual Conduct First Degree

Criminal sexual conduct first degree is a felony and has some of the heaviest penalties under the law in Michigan. If you are being falsely accused of criminal sexual conduct first degree offense, it is in your best interest to understand the severity of the penalties that you may be up against. Unfortunately, this means reviewing the penalties assigned under MCL 750.520b for a criminal sexual conduct first degree conviction. First, probation is not available for this conviction, so if a conviction is entered prison is mandatory. Next, there are three levels of penalties depending on the set of circumstances that the prosecutor tries to prove at trial.

The first level is when the person convicted is at least 17 years of age, and the other person is under 13 years of age. When these circumstances apply there is a minimum sentence of 25 years in prison, and a maximum sentence of life in prison. The second tier or punishment is enforced when the conviction is a second criminal sexual conduct conviction against someone under the age of 13. If this situation is present then punishment can be life in prison without the possibility of parole. Finally, all other circumstances may be sentenced for any term of years to life in prison. Therefore, although the maximum sentence is life in prison, the judge has the discretion to sentence a person to as little as one year in prison.

The additional penalties include a lifetime of electronic monitoring and sex offender registration. Electronic monitoring means that you will be electronically tracked at your expense for the remainder of your life. The Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA) identifies criminal sexual conduct first degree as a tier three listed offense. The only exception to sex offender registration are situations of statutory rape when the court determines that the act was consensual, and the person is not more than four years older than the victim and the victim is at least 13 years old, but less than 16 years of age.

Our Defense to Criminal Sexual Conduct First Degree

Criminal sexual conduct first degree is the mosta serious sexual crime that a person may be charged with, and therefore it requires an aggressive and well-thought-out defense strategy. Our first goal is to get the charges dropped before it ever goes to trial. Motions in limine may be necessary to suppress evidence that is more prejudicial than probative as to the operating facts of the case. These are pretrial evidentiary hearings, and they can be instrumental in the effective defense of criminal sexual conduct first degree. If the key pieces of the prosecution’s evidence are found to be unsubstantiated, unreliable, and more prejudicial than probative, then the judge may rule on the motion that the evidence cannot be used at trial. If the prosecutor has no case without the evidence, then they may drop the charges altogether.

However, if charges go to trial, then it is necessary to prepare an individualized defense strategy based on the particular evidence available and facts of your case. The objective is to win the case or have the charges dismissed. Grabel & Associates has been defending serious sexual crimes in Michigan for more than 15 years, and we have the experience and track record necessary to get results. We will fight for you to clear your name, restore your life and avoid any convictions on your record.

We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and would be happy to set up a free consultation to discuss your particular situation. We will get you moving in a positive direction. Contact us online or call us now at 1-800-883-2138 to begin the process of getting your life back.

Client Reviews

★★★★★
Great lawyer he went into court and ripped the girl trying to lie on me a new one. He fot me off on all charges and with out him i would be in prision. Thank you so much i will definitely keep your number and pass it on to any one in trouble and keep it for future incase i ever have to go back to court K. J.
★★★★★
Just starting the case. Scott Grabel is a very down to earth kind of guy. He doesn't rush you and answers your questions very thoroughly. Scott and Tim Doman return calls quickly. We're still early but I will post an update throughout our process. D. J.
★★★★★
Great job Tim, Scott, Daniel very aggressive and knowledgeable They always call you back if you have questions even after hours the best outcome I could've hoped for thanks again R. E.