Being charged with sexual assault at any level can be life changing. In Michigan, sexual assault or rape is charged as criminal sexual conduct, or CSC of varying degrees. An individual may be charged with first-, second-, third-, or fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct depending on certain factors such as whether penetration occurred, the age of the alleged victim, and more.
The person charged with CSC may be referred to as the defendant or “actor.” There are certain definitions under Michigan Penal Code Section 750.520a that will help you better understand each degree (1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th) as we explain them below.
Actor. The actor, or defendant, is the individual accused of committing CSC.
Intimate parts include the breast, groin, buttock, inner thigh, or primary genital area of an individual.
Sexual penetration includes not only sexual intercourse, but any intrusion by an object or other body part into an opening (genital, anal) and also includes anal intercourse, fellatio, and cunnilingus.
Sexual contact is defined as deliberate touching of someone else’s intimate parts as defined above, regardless of whether those intimate parts are clothed or unclothed.
First- and third-degree criminal sexual conduct (or sexual assault) involves penetration, which second- and fourth-degree CSC (sexual assault) involves only sexual contact.
1st Degree CSC
The most serious of all charges, first-degree criminal sexual conduct involves sexual penetration as described above, along with one of the factors below.
The victim is younger than 13
The victim is under 16 but older than 13 and the actor is blood related to the victim, a member of the same household as the victim, holds a position of authority over the victim and uses coercion or force, or is a teacher or administrator at a public school
A weapon or object that appears to be a weapon is used in the sexual assault
The victim is overcome by the actor via physical force or violence
A conviction for first-degree CSC may result in a life prison term.
2nd Degree CSC
Second-degree criminal sexual conduct involves many of the same factors/situations as first-degree CSC, however no penetration is involved, simply sexual contact as described above. Again, the factors include:
Whether the alleged victim is younger than 13 years of age
Whether the alleged victim is younger than 16 but over 13 years of age along with the actor (defendant) being a member of the same household as the victim, related by blood, in a position of authority while using coercion or force, or a teacher/administrator at a public school.
First- and second-degree criminal sexual conduct are charged as felony offenses. If found guilty of second-degree CSC, penalties include a maximum of 15 years in prison.
3rd Degree CSC
As with first-degree CSC, third-degree criminal sexual conduct involves penetration, as described above. Other factors/situations that may result in 3rd degree CSC charges include:
The alleged victim is between 13 and 16 years old
The actor accomplished penetration using coercion or force
The alleged victim was physically helpless, or mentally incapacitated or incapable and the actor knew this or had reason to know of the victim’s physical/mental status
Third-degree CSC is also a felony criminal charge which may result in a maximum of 15 years in prison.
4th Degree CSC
The only misdemeanor of all criminal sexual conduct charges, fourth-degree CSC means that some sort of sexual contact occurred in conjunction with one of the following situations/factors.
The alleged victim is between 13 and 16 years old, and the defendant (actor) is older than the victim by five or more years
Coercion was used by the actor to accomplish sexual contact
The victim is physically helpless, or mentally incapacitated/incapable and the actor knew this or had reason to know
If convicted of 4th degrees criminal sexual conduct, defendants may face up to two (2) years in prison.
Further clarification regarding the various degrees of criminal sexual conduct may be found under Michigan Penal Code Sections 750.520a, 750.520b, 750.520c, and 759.520d.
As you can see, the criminal penalties for each CSC conviction are serious; those found guilty may lose their freedom for a substantial number of years, or even life depending on the specific facts of the case. Registration as a sex offender is another factor the majority of those convicted will face, which can impact almost every aspect of the defendant’s life. If you or a loved one has been accused of a CSC at any degree, contact our sex crimes lawyer now for aggressive representation.