Definition Of Sexual Assault In Michigan
Sexual assault occurs when someone coerces or forces another person into unwanted sexual contact; it is not limited to penetration. It can be unwanted sexual touching or lewdness. The State of Michigan refers to it as sexual conduct, while some schools define it as sexual misconduct in their policies. Sexual assault may also include non-consensual physical contact such as fondling, kissing, or groping. Sexual assault is a very serious crime that may result in jail time and collateral consequences that will follow the offender for the rest of their life.
Unfortunately, there have been false sexual assault claims for various reasons, such as retaliation against individuals who will not have sexual relations with another person or as revenge for ending a relationship. As a result, contacting an attorney as soon as possible after being accused is essential to ensure your interests are protected.
Sexual Assault And Sexual Harassment In The Workplace
Another situation in which people are charged with sexual assault and sexual harassment is in the workplace. There is an essential difference between sexual harassment and sexual assault; one falls under civil law, and the other under criminal law. Therefore, knowing the difference between the two types of sexual conduct is essential.
According to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, sexual harassment is defined in two ways – quid pro quo and hostile work environment.
Quid Pro Quo
Quid pro quo is sexual harassment that involves a supervisor and an employee, where the supervisor benefits from an imbalance of power between the parties. In some cases, this does not rise to sexual assault because it is not a physical act; however, it may become sexual assault under criminal law if the individual does engage in prohibited sexual conduct. Some examples of quid pro quo harassment include telling an employee that they need to engage in sexual conduct with someone in exchange for:
- Pay Raises
- Better Shifts
- Favorable Assignments
It may also involve threats such as threatening to give a bad performance review unless the employee engages in sexual conduct or goes on a date with their supervisor.
Hostile Work Environment
A hostile work environment needs to be repeatable to meet the definition. It is more broadly defined than quid pro quo. This type of work environment is so repeatable that it creates an intimidating working environment and hinders someone’s work. For example, a hostile work environment may be:
- Offensive jokes or comments about one’s sexuality
- Unwanted sexual attention
- Unwanted touching or sexual contact
- Persistent unwanted flirting
This type of sexual harassment generally does not rise to the level of sexual assault; therefore, it will go through a different procedure than the criminal court system. For example, the defendant must file a complaint with the EEOC and follow their procedures.
Sexual Assault On School Grounds
The Michigan government estimates that 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men are targets of attempted or completed sexual assault while college students. It is also estimated that 85 percent of sexual assault crimes are committed by someone the victim knows. Due to the high number of sexual assaults that occur while individuals are in college, Michigan put together a Campus Sexual Assault Resource Guide. The guide informs individuals to seek medical attention immediately because potential evidence is time sensitive; a sexual assault kit can only be collected up to five days after the assault. It also provides contact information for different programs around Michigan.
If you have been accused of sexual assault in Michigan, it is essential to contact an attorney. Sexual assault is a serious crime that may result in a year or more in prison.
Penalties For Sexual Assault In Michigan
Generally, sexual assault will be classified as some degree of criminal sexual conduct. There are four degrees of criminal sexual conduct that vary in the punishment associated with them.
Fourth-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct
A fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct charge may result when someone performs unwanted sexual touching or contact. Sexual touching generally encompasses someone touching another person’s intimate body parts. This can occur while someone still has their clothes on. Fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct can be charged under the following circumstances:
- An assault against someone who is at least 13 but less than 16, where the accused is at least five years older than the victim
- The offender uses force or coercion to accomplish the sexual contact
- An assault against someone who is at least 16 years old but less than 26 years old and receiving special education services
Under Michigan law, a fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct conviction may result in up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $500.
Third-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct
Under Michigan law, a third-degree criminal sexual conduct charge may result when someone sexually penetrates another person with their consent, but the person does not have the legal capacity to consent. For that reason, criminal sexual conduct in the third degree is known as a statutory rape crime. Statutory rape may occur when:
- Sexual penetration occurs with someone between 13 and 15, where the accused is at least five years older than the victim
- If the sexual penetration occurred with someone between 16 and 26 who is in special education
- If the defendant was employed by the school that the victim attended and the victim was between 16 and 18
In Michigan, a third-degree criminal sexual conduct conviction may result in up to 15 years in prison.
Second-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct
Under Michigan law, a second-degree criminal sexual conduct charge is the harshest charge that can be imposed for unwanted sexual contact. Second-degree criminal sexual conduct can be charged in any of the following circumstances of assault:
- Against someone under 13
- Against someone who is between 13 and 16, where the accused is at least five years older than the victim
- Against a foster child within the housing facility
- Against someone with a mental or physical disability
- Against a prisoner or probationer
In Michigan, a second-degree criminal sexual conduct conviction may result in up to fifteen years in prison.
First-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct
Under Michigan law, a first-degree criminal sexual conduct charge involves sexual penetration and is the harshest charge that can be imposed. First-degree criminal sexual conduct may result when any of the following circumstances occur:
- The victim is under 13
- The victim is over 13 but under 16, and the offender is a member of the person’s family, household member, or holds a position of authority (such as a teacher, officer, or priest)
- Armed sexual assault
- The sexual assault results in physical injuries to the victim
- The sexual assault is against a disabled individual
In Michigan, this is the most severe criminal sexual conduct charge and can result in life in prison upon conviction. Some of the things that the prosecution needs to show are force or coercion, mental incapacity, or physical helplessness of the victim.
Force Or Coercion
This is sexual touching through the application of physical force or physical violence. For example, if someone does not consent to touch and the offender forces physical contact by grabbing their chest.
This occurs when someone sexually touches an individual that suffers from a mental disease or defect that renders them temporarily or permanently incapable of understanding the conduct. This can be influenced by narcotics, anesthetics, or another substance that removes their ability to consent to sexual conduct.
This may occur when someone sexually touches another person while they are unconscious, asleep, or physically unable to communicate their unwillingness to engage in the act.
Sex Offender Registry
An individual charged with certain sex crimes, such as rape, will be required to register as a sex offender. The sex offender registry in Michigan places a sex offender’s picture, address, and criminal history on the Internet for public record. In addition to the database entry for the sex offender, certain organizations will be notified when a sex offender lives within a specific range of a school or other areas. For example, local schools and law enforcement will be notified of the individual’s presence. As a result, being on the sex offender registry also affects where the offender may live.
Defenses For Sexual Assault In Michigan
Statute Of Limitations For Sexual Assault In Michigan
In June 2018, Governor Brian Calley signed Bills 871 and 872 into law, extending the statute of limitations for sexual assaults. Under this law, a charge can be brought within 15 years of the offense or before the victim turns 28 if the victim was under 18 when assaulted. However, if the sexual assault was in the second, third, or fourth degree, the charges must be brought within ten years of the offense or by the victim’s 21st birthday, whichever is later.
Several defenses may be available to an individual being charged with criminal sexual conduct. These may include:
- Insanity or Mental Incapacity
In determining the best defense for a case, it is essential to contact an experienced and knowledgeable attorney who can review the facts and determine the most successful defense.
Consent should never be assumed. Instead, it must be what is called a meeting of the minds. This means that for consent to exist, there must be a clear understanding regarding the intent of both individuals involved in the sexual activity. Additionally, if the consent is withdrawn, the other party must stop the sexual activity; if they continue, it is considered criminal sexual conduct. It is also not a defense to say that you and the accuser are in a relationship and have a history of sexual activity. Consent is not assumed, even with a spouse or partner with whom you’ve had a sexual relationship regularly.
When a defendant is using the consent defense, the jury will be informed of what consent is and that if the evidence shows there is reasonable doubt about whether there was consent, then the defendant should not be found guilty of the crime. When considering whether there was a sexual assault, the following questions may be considered:
- Did the alleged victim have the freedom to leave?
- Did the accused use force, sexual violence, or coercion to engage in sexual conduct?
- Did the accused threaten the victim with bodily injury to get them to engage in sexual conduct?
However, the evidence doesn’t need to show that the victim resisted the sexual assault or did anything to put themselves in less danger.
Duress is when someone commits a crime because they fear physical or emotional harm to themselves or a loved one. For example, if someone walks up behind you with a gun and says get in the car and drive, but it isn’t your car, that would generally be considered grand theft. However, because you reasonably feared for your life, you likely could not be charged with grand theft. Duress is a less common and complex defense in sexual assault cases unless the person was standing over you with a gun or threatening a loved one when the assault occurred.
If you or someone you know committed a sexual assault out of fear due to another’s threats, it is critical to contact an experienced attorney who can help clarify the defense and collect all the necessary evidence to be successful.
Insanity And Mental Incapacity
The insanity or mental incapacity defenses essentially say that the individual committed the crime, but they were not able to know that their actions were wrong. However, the two differ slightly. For example, mental incapacity is used when someone has a mental disability that slows their processing powers, such as dementia, and is likely considered to be longer lasting. Insanity is where the person was legally insane and had no idea their actions were dangerous or wrong, or they could not control themselves even if they wanted to.
Insanity is one of the most talked about defenses, but it is also the least used and least likely to succeed. The National Institute of Mental Health performed a study that showed that less than one percent of cases use the insanity defense (generally, these are in cases of murder). Only a fraction of those insanity defense cases are successful. In using the defense of insanity or mental incapacity, several steps must be taken to notify the prosecution, so they can adequately prepare by having evaluations done on the defendant and hiring expert witnesses. Therefore, if you believe someone was mentally incapacitated or legally insane when they committed a crime, hiring the most experienced and knowledgeable attorney is crucial to increase the odds that the defense will be successful.
Most people have heard of an alibi while watching a cop show on TV – “I wasn’t there; I have an alibi.” Alibis are the most powerful tool for proving that the accused did not commit the crime because it places them in another location at the time of the incident, making it impossible that they committed the crime. However, for an alibi to be successful, there generally needs to be corroborating evidence; it is not enough to merely say, “I was at home watching TV by myself.” Sexual assault cases only need a victim to identify the offender for the case to be exceptionally strong; therefore, corroborating evidence is crucial. That does not mean that you cannot tell the truth that you were home watching TV; however, hiring an attorney will help increase your odds of success because they will know what questions to ask and what evidence to look for to corroborate (support) the facts of your alibi.
Hiring A Sexual Assault Criminal Defense Attorney In Michigan
If you or someone you know has been charged with sexual assault, it is essential to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. The sexual assault lawyers at George Law will review your case and defend your interests. Call us today at 248-587-8310 or by filling out a form online.
Frequently Asked Questions About Sexual Assault In Michigan
What Is Statutory Rape?
Statutory rape occurs when there is sexual conduct or activity between one or more people under the age of consent, which is 16 in Michigan. For example, if someone over 19 has a girlfriend under 15 and they engage in sexual intercourse, that can be considered statutory rape.
Can Consent Be Assumed In Michigan?
Consent can never be assumed in Michigan. This means that an individual must clearly understand consent from the person before engaging in sexual conduct. If there was no actual consent, the individual could have sexually assaulted the person.
What Are Teacher Sexual Abuse Cases?
Teacher sexual abuse is a serious sexual assault because it involves an individual in a position of power who takes advantage of a student. In some situations, a student will falsely accuse a teacher they do not like of sexual abuse.
What Is The Definition Of Prostitution In Michigan?
Prostitution involves paying another person for sexual activity. Prostitution is illegal on both sides of the line, meaning that the prostitute and the individual who is paying the prostitute may both be charged with criminal sexual conduct.
What Is The Definition Of Solicitation In Michigan?
Solicitation is similar to prostitution and is generally referred to as solicitation of prostitution. The main difference between solicitation and prostitution is that solicitation focuses on the acts leading up to prostitution. Solicitation of prostitution is generally a misdemeanor that results in up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.
I Accidentally Touched Another Person’s Private Parts. Will I Be Charged?
In most cases, if you accidentally touch someone’s private parts, there is still a possibility that you may be charged with criminal sexual conduct. The circumstances around the criminal sexual conduct may result in a conviction if the evidence shows that the touching was not completely accidental.
I Was Intoxicated When I Touched The Individual. Can I Be Charged With Criminal Sexual Conduct In The Second Degree?
Intoxication is never a defense against sexual assault.
What Is The Romeo And Juliet Law?
The Romeo and Juliet law is an exception to the law that applies only to statutory rape. This law was implemented to prevent individuals who engage in consensual sexual activity between two participants that are close in age. To be eligible for the benefits of the Romeo and Juliet law, the accuser must meet the following circumstances:
- The conduct was consensual
- The alleged victim was at least 13 but under 16 at the time of the conduct
- The alleged victim and offender were not more than four years apart
I Touched Another Person’s Butt When We Were Passing. Can I Be Charged With Criminal Sexual Conduct?
If someone touches another person’s butt without their consent, the person who did the unwanted touching may be charged with criminal sexual conduct in the fourth degree. Under Michigan law, the individual can be accused of criminal sexual conduct.
Can I Be Charged With Multiple Degrees Of Sexual Assault If We Had All The Sex On The Same Day?
If you have sex with someone multiple times on the same day or night without the other person’s consent, you can be charged with multiple charges of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree. For example, if someone has had sex three times in the same night without the other party’s consent, they may be charged with three separate charges of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree.
What Is Indecent Exposure In Michigan?
Indecent exposure is a sex crime that involves exposing someone’s private parts to another person without their consent or in public. This may include the accused fondling themself without actual exposure, which may be considered aggravated indecent exposure. Individuals convicted of indecent exposure may end up on the sex offender registry.
Can I Appeal A Criminal Sexual Conduct Conviction?
Generally, yes, an individual can appeal a criminal sexual conduct conviction. There is no guarantee that any criminal sexual conduct conviction will be overturned on appeal. As a result, contacting an experienced and knowledgeable defense lawyer is essential to ensure that you make the best appeal to enhance your odds of a conviction being overturned.
What Is The Average Sentence For A Sex Offender?
The most common degree of criminal sexual conduct is that in the third degree, which may result in up to 15 years in prison and being listed on the Michigan Sex Offenders Registry for life.
Is Sexual Assault A Felony?
Most sex offenses are felonies. The exception is crimes classified as misdemeanors, such as indecent exposure or lewd conduct. However, a large number of sexual assault charges are felonies which will result in substantial prison sentences.
What Constitutes Consent?
Generally, consent is an affirmative and conscious decision by each participant who is awake and not incapacitated—also known as a meeting of the minds. Consent must be voluntary and cannot be given in the presence of coercion, force, threat, or intimidation. Additionally, consent is revocable. Even if someone consents initially, it can be withdrawn.
What Is The Process For Criminal Conduct Charges?
There are several steps to go through for a charge of sexual assault, generally as follows:
- Warrant for Arrest
- Probable Cause Hearing
- Preliminary Exam Hearing
- Arraignment on Information
Some of these stages may be waived by a defendant if it is in their best interest, which an experienced attorney will understand. To better comprehend each process of a criminal trial, contact one of our sexual assault lawyers at George Law by calling us at 248-587-8310 or by filling out a form online.