Important Points about Sex Crimes
Being convicted of a sex crime is not just a legal battle. The mere allegation to your person is enough to ruin your reputation. If you are found guilty of a sex crime, the repercussions are sizable; a criminal offense may impede your job, future employment opportunities, your family, your freedom, and the respect of the people in your life. Even after the litigation of a sex crime, you may still be prominent in the sex offender registry of Michigan for 25 years, or in some case, for life. Being subject to a sex offender registry can prove to be worse than prison, as all types of harassment will interfere with your personal life: your privacy will consistently be violated, a spouse or partner may receive threatening forms of communication, and your children might go through hell at school. The harassment won’t cease if you change communities, as long as you are a member of the Michigan sex offender registry.
Sex crimes incorporate a variety of infractions, such as rape, criminal sexual conduct, child sex abuse, molestation, solicitation of a minor, gross indecency, and possession of child pornography. In court, a sex crime’s legal outcome is contingent upon the amount of legal preparation, the proper utilization of expert witnesses, and the overall experience of your Flint criminal defense attorney.
Sex Crime Charges in Michigan
In Michigan, sex crimes are typically charged as one of four degrees of an offense of criminal sexual conduct. If you have been charged with CSC in Michigan, it is important to understand your legal rights and have a strong legal defense. Individuals facing these charges should consider discussing their case with an experienced Michigan criminal sexual conduct defense lawyer.
First-degree criminal sexual conduct is the most serious CSC charge in Michigan. Police may file these charges if they believe that two factors were involved in the case. First, there must have been sexual penetration of the alleged victim.
The second factor can be any one of the following circumstances:
- The alleged victim was under 13 years old at the time of the offense
- The defendant committed the offense while armed with a weapon
- Force or coercion was used during the crime
- The defendant was in a position of authority over the alleged victim
A conviction for first-degree CSC carries severe penalties, including a sentence of up to life in prison and mandatory registration as a sex offender for life.
Prosecutors may charge someone with second-degree CSC in Michigan based on allegations of sexual touching if the victim was either under 13 years old, a family member of the defendant, or under the authority of the defendant. The key difference from first-degree CSC is sexual touching instead of penetration.
A second-degree CSC conviction is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and sex offender registration for 25 years.
Third-degree CSC charges apply in cases of “statutory rape” and other scenarios. These charges are filed if the alleged victim was either under the age of consent (16 in Michigan), unable to consent due to being mentally incapacitated, or if force was involved.
If you are convicted of third-degree CSC in Michigan, you may face up to 15 years in prison and mandatory sex offender registration for life.
While the least severe CSC charge, fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct is also a serious felony offense. This crime involves sexual contact of a victim by a perpetrator who was in a position of authority over them, if force or coercion were used, or if the victim was mentally incapacitated at the time of the offense.
A fourth-degree CSC conviction is punishable by up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $500. The court could also require sex offender registration for any number of years up to life, but it is not mandatory as it is in the other degrees of CSC.
What Evidence Is Needed For a Sex Crime Conviction in Michigan?
In Michigan, sexual crime cases are unique in their evidence requirements. While other serious crimes often require physical evidence for charges to be filed, Michigan prosecutors may file criminal sexual conduct charges based on the accuser’s police statements alone.
This evidentiary standard is codified into law under the statute MCL 750.520h, which states that “testimony of a victim need not be corroborated” with evidence in cases of criminal sexual misconduct.
Many criminal sexual misconduct cases do not have physical evidence, so it is very common for charges to be filed solely based on the accuser’s testimony. This is because many victims do not immediately report the assault, and physical evidence like DNA is only available for a limited period after the assault.
In cases with only testimony as evidence, a criminal defense lawyer will likely look for ways to challenge the testimony as part of their client’s legal defense.
How Can a Criminal Defense Attorney Help With Sex Crime Charges?
Michigan criminal defense attorney Shaun R. Marks represents clients in a wide range of criminal matters, including criminal sexual conduct and other sex crimes. Shaun does everything in his power to help his clients avoid convictions for these serious crimes.
While legal strategies vary depending on the circumstances of the case, there are a few avenues to explore when constructing a defense to sex crime charges in Michigan:
- Is there reason to believe the accuser has the motive to make false allegations?
- Was the accuser questioned in a leading or suggestive way, which could have resulted in a false memory?
- Are there any police errors in the investigation?
- Are there any contradictions in the accuser’s testimony?
In some cases, a criminal defense attorney may be able to get charges reduced in a plea agreement if avoiding a conviction is not possible.
What Are the Requirements of the Michigan Sex Offender Registry?
Mandatory registration in the Michigan Sex Offender Registry can continue to affect your life even after you have fulfilled the other conditions of your sentence, such as a prison sentence and fines.
The requirements for registered sex offenders include the following:
- Offenders must register in person with the local police
- Their photo, address, and criminal background are posted online
- They are prohibited from living or working near schools
Can You Remove Yourself From the Sex Offender Registry in Michigan?
In Michigan, some sex offenders are eligible to petition the court to have themselves removed from the state’s sex offender registry. Generally, one of the following two conditions must apply:
- Romeo and Juliet Offenses – “Romeo and Juliet” convictions involve criminal sexual conduct between a victim who was between the ages of 13 and 15 and a defendant who was less than four years older. While sexual conduct with someone between these ages remains illegal, those who committed this offense in a consensual “Romeo and Juliet relationship” may petition for removal from the registry following changes to the law in 2011.
- Tier 1 Offenses – The 2011 changes to Michigan’s sex crimes laws introduced a tier system, with the most serious sex offenses listed as Tier 4, and the least serious as Tier 1. Certain types of Tier 1 offenders may qualify to have their listings removed from the Michigan sex offender registry.
Can You Appeal a Sex Crime Conviction in Michigan?
Yes, Michigan allows individuals convicted of sex offenses and other crimes to appeal their conviction and sentence. An appeal can also be filed even if you accepted a plea agreement. Criminal sexual conduct defense lawyer Shaun Marks can analyze all details of your case and conviction for possible grounds for a successful appeal.
Defend Your Rights with a Criminal Sexual Conduct Attorney
As sex crimes are extremely tenuous, it is important to be situated with an attorney who has plenty of experience in the field. Whether you reside in Genesee County, Oakland County, Lapeer County, Shiawassee County, or Saginaw County, Shaun R. Marks, P.C., is here to help you counteract any allegation against you regarding sex crimes. With sixteen years of experience in criminal defense, our firm has a tenacious approach to fighting for your personal rights. Unlike many large law firms, you will not get a random lawyer or associate appointed to your case. You hire me, you get me. A Flint criminal defense attorney can help you with your sex crime charges. I will work very hard for your cause and do all I can to reduce your charges or see them dropped altogether!