On January 17, 22-year-old Brandon W. Payne was arraigned on charges of sexual assault. Payne pleaded not guilty to three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct against someone under the age of 13 and against a relative according to news reports at Mlive.com. He is accused of sexually assaulting a female relative from 2009 to 2013 beginning when the alleged victim was 12 years old.
Payne lives near the Midland County border on Tittabawassee; after entering his not guilty plea, Payne was ordered held on a $600,000 bond by Saginaw County District Judge Terry L. Clark. Defendants have a right to a preliminary hearing within 14 days of being arraigned, however Payne waived that right before District Judge A.T. Frank on Friday. A new date for the preliminary hearing has not yet been set.
Michigan sex crime defense attorneys understand the serious consequences Payne may face if the case proceeds to trial and he is found guilty. At 22 years old, he may face a lifetime behind bars. First-degree criminal sexual conduct is the most serious sex crime anyone can be charged with, and involves penetration. Considering the alleged victim in this case was younger than 13 when the sexual abuse began, the minimum sentence if Payne is convicted is 25 years in prison.
If Payne is indeed innocent of the allegations against him, it is understandable that he would plead not guilty. However, many defendants choose to negotiate a plea agreement with the prosecutor, which can and often does result in a reduced sentence. The penalty for first-degree CSC is as serious as the punishment for murder. For this reason, it is critical for anyone who is charged with this offense to consult with a highly regarded defense lawyer who will work with the accused to determine the best strategy to protect the individual’s freedom and legal rights.
Ultimately, a skilled Michigan sex crime defense lawyer wants to either have the charges dismissed, reduced to a lesser offense, or obtain a verdict of not guilty should the case go to trial. Contact a lawyer immediately if facing accusations of any sex-related offense in order to avoid harsh and often life-changing criminal penalties.