Michigan CSC Case: Prosecution and Bringing a Charge
A CSC case always begins with a complaining witness, such as the victim or a victim’s relative. The complaining witness reports the crime to the police, and the investigation begins. After law enforcement officers have investigated the allegations and completed their interviews of the victim, other witnesses, and the suspect, they will submit their reports to the prosecutor. Depending on the facts and circumstances of the case, the police will make an arrest or request a warrant. In order to make an arrest, the police only need to have probable cause, which is a much lower standard than guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Formal Charges in a CSC Prosecution
The prosecutor will decide whether there is enough evidence to file formal charges. The prosecutor will review all of the reports and records, including witness statements and physical evidence if there is any. Formal charges begin with issuing a warrant for the defendant’s arrest. A magistrate judge will issue a warrant based on the police officer’s testimony, and then will determine if there is probable cause to proceed.
In determining whether to file charges, the prosecutor will consider whether he or she will be able to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial. The prosecutor may determine that there is not enough evidence to charge the suspect, or the prosecutor may ask the police to do further investigation into the allegations. The prosecutor must consider things like whether the victim remembers exactly what happened and the circumstances surrounding the allegations. The prosecutor may also want to consider the victim’s potential motives for making up the allegations. A single set of facts may bring one charge, or multiple charges, and the prosecutor will decide what level of charges are appropriate. A suspect’s criminal history may affect what he is charged with, and prosecutors have wide discretion in making this determination. Aggravating factors may also affect this decision, including the age of the victim, the age of the suspect, and whether the offense involved sexual penetration or sexual conduct.
A Felony Complaint of a CSC
The first charging document issued is called a Complaint. A felony complaint will contain the following information: the defendant’s name and address, the victim or complainant’s name, the complaining witness’s name (if it is different than the victim), the date of the alleged crime, any possible co-defendants’ names, the location of the crime, the charges, and the maximum penalty for the charges. The felony complaint will also contain the basic facts of the allegations including the precise statutes that the defendant is alleged to have violated.
Preliminary Examination of CSC Evidence
After an evidentiary hearing is held before a district court judge, also called a preliminary examination, the case will be sent to circuit court, where the defendant is arraigned on the charges. The defendant is given formal notice of the charges and their maximum penalties in a document called an “Information.” At this stage, the defendant has the chance to plead guilty, not guilty, or stand mute. In certain circumstances, the defendant is allowed to plead “no contest.”
If you have questions about any stage of a sex crimes case involving you or a loved one, call our office at 1-800-677-9795 or use the Contact Us form for a free consultation. We are available 24/7 to take your call.