Criminal Sexual Conduct and the Various Degrees

Knowing the differences between first-, second-, third-, and fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct can be confusing, particularly to those who are not familiar with the laws. While the most serious charge is first-degree CSC, being convicted at any level will leave an individual facing harsh criminal penalties. Below we will go over the basics so that you understand the various degrees with which an individual may be charged.

Any time penetration is involved, whether the penetration is oral, anal, or traditional intercourse, the charge will be considered as first- or third-degree CSC. Penetration does not have to be made using genitals; any body part or object inserted into body openings can be considered penetration.

Once it has been established that penetration did occur, the difference between first- and third-degree criminal sexual conduct is determined by other factors, including the age of the alleged victim, whether the victim/defendant are related, whether a weapon was used or injury occurred, whether the defendant is employed at a school or within the school district the victim attends, or is a contract employee of the school or district, and other factors. First-degree CSC typically involves victims who are younger than 13 or between 13 and 15 but related to the alleged perpetrator. Third-degree CSC involves alleged victims who are between ages 13 and 16, between 16 and 18 years old and a student in a school or district where the accused individual is employed as a teacher, administrator, contactor or other in another capacity, or between 16 and 26 years old with special needs, such as an individual who attends a special education school where the alleged perpetrator of the sex crime is a teacher, administrator, or otherwise employed.

Second- and fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct basically adhere to the same guidelines, with the primary difference being that penetration does not occur. Sexual contact includes contact or touching of the breasts, buttocks, groin area or inner thighs, but without penetration.

Regardless of the degree, Michigan sex crime attorneys know that accusations of criminal sexual conduct should be taken very seriously. Not only do penalties for those convicted include potential prison time, the requirement to register as a sex offender will negatively impact an individual’s ability to live a normal life forever.


If you have been accused of criminal sexual conduct or have been arrested for or charged with a sex crime, it is imperative that you consult with a capable Michigan sex crime lawyer immediately.

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