Certain types of sexual behavior are considered illegal under both federal laws and state laws in Michigan. Sex crimes are taken very seriously and the penalties can be harsh, sometimes including a lifetime prison sentence. Those convicted of criminal sexual conduct may also be required to register on Michigan’s sex offender registry, a designation that can affect employment and housing opportunities, reputation and relationships.
Types of Criminal Sexual Conduct
A variety of sexual behaviors are illegal in Michigan. Some of these behaviors are specifically referred to as “Criminal Sexual Conduct” as defined in the Michigan Penal Code Act 328 of 1931. These include:
- Felony first-degree sexual conduct: You may be accused of felony first-degree criminal sexual conduct if you engage in sexual penetration with someone under age 13 or if the victim is aged 13-16 and is a member of your household, is blood-related or is someone you have authority over, such as a student. Penalties can result in up to life in prison.
- Felony second-degree sexual conduct: You may be charged with this crime if you have sexual contact not involving penetration with someone under age 13 or someone age 13-16 in the above categories. Penalties can result in as long as 15 years of incarceration and lifetime monitoring.
- Felony third-degree sexual conduct: This charge is brought as result of penetration with someone age 13-16 without the aggravating factors of first-degree sexual conduct. Penalties can result in as long as 15 years of incarceration.
- Fourth-degree sexual conduct: This is a charge that is considered a misdemeanor for certain purposes and a felony for others. This charge is brought for sexual conduct with someone aged 13-16 with no penetration and with none of the aggravating factors found in felony second-degree sexual conduct. Penalties can include up to two years of incarceration and a fine up to $500.
Michigan has a “Romeo and Juliet” law to ensure that someone close in age is not charged with criminal sexual conduct for sex with someone underage. For example, an 18-year-old boy who has sex with a 15-year-old girlfriend could potentially be charged with criminal sexual conduct (often called statutory rape) without the “Romeo and Juliet” law. The law in Michigan allows a criminal sexual conduct charge after consensual sex acts only if the individual is at least five years older than the underage person.
Other Types of Sexual Acts That Can Result in Criminal Charges
Other behaviors that can result in sex crimes charges in Michigan include:
- Sexual assault.
- Soliciting sex for profit.
- Indecent exposure.
- Internet sex crimes.
Many Internet sex crimes involve underage children and can result in federal charges. For example,18 U.S.C. sections 2251, 2252 and 2252A make it illegal to produce, distribute, receive and possess any type of child pornography. Section 2251A forbids parents and guardians from buying, selling or transferring custody of children for the purposes of producing child pornography, and section 2251 makes it illegal to try to persuade, induce or entice a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct to produce visual depictions of that conduct.
Responding to Sex Crime Charges
Responding to sex crimes charges promptly is very important because of the serious consequences that come with a conviction. You need to understand the different options available to you, and you need to be certain you do not do anything to jeopardize your case or your freedom.
You have certain rights, including a Fourth Amendment right against unlawful search and seizure and a Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. You need an experienced attorney to help you to exercise these and other protections available to you under the Constitution.
You also have the right to a fair trial and must be presumed innocent until proven guilty. The prosecutor has the burden of proving that you have engaged in criminal sexual conduct in order to secure a conviction. Those charged with sex crimes may have a number of possible defenses, including mistaken identity, consent or lack of knowledge of the child pornography on your computer. The appropriate defense will vary depending on what crime you have been charged with, the evidence against you and the circumstances of your arrest.
When no valid defenses are available, it may also be possible to negotiate a plea agreement to minimize the severity of the charges and the gravity of the potential consequences. An experienced Michigan sex crimes defense lawyer can help you to select the best course of action. Contact our firm today.