Michigan considers various acts to be unlawful sexual conduct. Criminal acts are either misdemeanors or felonies. Whether a misdemeanor or felony, some sex crimes in Michigan come with factors that detail actions that contribute to the offense. However, elements are essential to the offense, and the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that each element named took place. Otherwise, the prosecutor should reduce your charge or drop the case. In the matter that you go to trial, which is the likely situation, your attorney must prove that prosecutor failed to check off every element in the crime box so that the jury must acquit you of the charges.
Below is a list of common sex crime charges in Michigan. In addition, the statutory language of these crimes can be difficult to understand, so please refer to Michigan’s Penal Code definitions.
Michigan charges rape as a 1st-degree or 3rd-degree criminal sexual conduct offense instead of a separate crime. Therefore, rape involves sexual penetration against the victim’s will or consent. The victim may be unable to consent due to drunkenness, being younger than sixteen (i.e., the age of consent in Michigan), unconsciousness, or because you used a weapon to force the victim into acquiescing.
Most people imagine you slipping a roofie into your date’s drink when they think of date rape. That is not always the scenario. Michigan does not have a specific “date rape” sexual offense law. Rather sexual assault between two people in a relationship is date rape. For a prosecutor to successfully charge you with date rape, a prosecutor must show that:
- You were dating this person
- You committed sexual assault in the 1st degree by using threat, force, a weapon, or
- You engaged in sexual activity while the victim was incapacitated and unable to consent
Punishment For Rape
Rape is a 1st-degree criminal sexual conduct violation. If a jury convicts you of this sex crime in Michigan, a judge may sentence you to life in prison, and you’ll be required to register as a sex offender for a mandatory minimum of twenty-five years. But, more than likely, you will pay restitution upon your release.
Michigan charges any unlawful sexual contact with minors as child abuse in the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree. Whether a child or child’s parents accuse you of molestation, rape, or assault, Michigan law considers it child abuse. Whether sexual penetration or sexual contact occurred, the child’s relation to you and other factors dictate the degree of your supposed offense.
Punishment For Child Abuse
If a jury finds you guilty of child abuse, a judge will sentence you in agreeance with the degree of your offense. You may serve life in prison, a fifteen-year sentence, or less. There is also the possibility of the judge sentencing you to felony probation and ordering you to pay a hefty fine. Moreover, you can anticipate paying restitution upon your release. Also, you must register as a sexual offender for a minimum mandatory of twenty-five years.
Child Pornography Crimes
Michigan defines child pornography crimes as possessing or distributing child sexually abusive activity. Possessing materials that showcase children’s intimate parts or children engaged in sexual activity is a felony offense. Distributing, promoting, or financing the sharing or making of child pornography is a felony. This includes receiving such materials to distribute them or conspiring to do so. If you persuade, coerce, or allow a minor to create child pornography, this is also a felonious sexual offense.
Punishment For Child Pornography
Possession of child sexually abusive material is a felony punishable by up to four years. Moreover, a judge may order you to pay a fine of up to $10,000.
Distributing child sexually abusive material is a felony punishable by up to seven years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.
Persuading a minor to produce child sexually abusive activity to create pornographic material is a felony that is punishable by up to twenty years in prison. Furthermore, you may have to pay a fine of $100,000.
It is against the law to prostitute yourself. It is unlawful to commit either of the following:
- Engaging in sexual activity to receive payment
- Soliciting business for compensation of sexual activities
Punishment For Prostitution
Prostituting yourself is typically a misdemeanor offense if you are at least sixteen years old. However, the sentence is lighter if you are a first-time offender. You may serve ninety-three days in jail, pay $500, serve probation, or a combination. Although this sentence may seem insignificant, a criminal record can hinder your educational and career goals, especially one accompanied by such an ugly stigma.
The more police arrest you for this offense, the greater your penalties. For example, if you become a second-time offender, a judge may sentence you to a year behind bars and increase the fine to $1000. If you are a third-time offender, a judge has the discretion to sentence you to two years in prison and order you to pay a fine of up to $2000.
Other Prostitution-Related Offenses
Although prostituting oneself is a sex crime in Michigan, so are many other acts that involve soliciting and hiring a prostitute. You may not hire a prostitute to engage in sexual activity as a person. In addition, you may not participate in the operation or maintenance of a “house of ill-fame, bawdy house, or any house or place resorted to for the purpose of prostitution or lewdness.” furthermore, you are forbidden from assisting a prostitute by procuring clients and promoting prostitution. Moreover, it is against the law for you to encourage a prostitute to remain in a house of sex work and take a person to a house of sex work to influence that person to become a prostitute.
Those who hire or assist a prostitute face the same penalties as first and second-time offenders for prostitution. Third-time offenders who hire prostitutes become felony offenders facing up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $2000. Operating a prostitution house is a more serious sex crime. It is automatically a felony that may land you behind bars for five years. Also, a judge may require you to pay a fine of up to $2500. Perhaps one of the most serious prostitution-related offenses is forcing your wife into sex work. This is a felony that can result in a lengthy sentence of twenty years, regardless of whether you use fraud, intimidation, or force.
Other related offenses that come with various sentences include transporting a female to entice her to become a prostitute, trapping or detaining a person in a house for unlawful sexual conduct, and accepting money from a prostitute or pimp.
Read more in our blog: Michigan Sex-Trafficking Lawyer – Penal Code Section 750.459
Accosting A Minor
It is against the law to accost a minor (i.e., someone under the legal age of consent) to procure that child to participate in a sexually abusive activity. You may not entice or solicit a child for immoral or sexual purposes. For a jury to find you guilty of this crime, you must:
- Act to induce a minor into sexual intercourse, gross indecency, or depravity
- Act to encourage a minor to engage in any of the acts mentioned above
Punishment For Accosting A Minor
The law regards harming a child as a serious crime. It is particularly serious in the eyes of Michigan prosecutors. If the police arrest you for this crime, and a jury finds you guilty, a judge may sentence you to four years in prison and order you to pay a hefty fine of $4000. If this is not your first offense of accosting a minor, you can serve as many as ten years in state prison and pay a fine as absorbent as $10,000. Bear in mind that this is a tier two sex offender sex crime in Michigan. means you’ll have to register for a mandatory minimum of twenty-five years.
Assault With Intent
The statutes on assault with intent to commit sexual penetration and assault with intent to commit sexual conduct involving contact are vague, so you must first understand the legal definition of assault. Assault is:
- your attempt to batter the accuser or
- committing an act that would put a reasonable person in fear or apprehension of an immediate battery
But what is battery? Battery occurs when you touch someone forcefully, violently, or offensively. It is also battery when you touch something closely connected to that person in a forceful, violent, or offensive manner. In combination with one of the intentions below, this offense is a sex crime in Michigan.
To Commit Sexual Penetration
Sometimes, prosecutors refer to this crime as “attempted rape.” This felony offense is punishable by no more than ten years of incarceration. However, it is a serious offense that you do not want on your criminal record. If someone accuses you of this sex crime, immediately contact a sex crimes attorney.
To Commit Sexual Conduct Involving Contact
This is a 2nd degree CSC offense. It comes with a penalty of serving up to five years in prison.
Sex Offender Registration In Michigan
Every state has its own set of policies regarding sex offender registration. The Sex Offenders Registration Act (SORA) defines Michigan’s policies. If you have followed recent sex offender news, you may know that SORA has undergone a few changes. First, we will discuss what the state has changed.
Today, you no longer have to worry about school exclusion zones if you are a registrant. The latest version of SORA removed this living restriction. In other words, you can attend your children’s school events and extracurricular activities unless their schools have specific policies that hinder you from doing so. You may be within 1000 feet of a school zone. This opens the door for a wider range of living and employment opportunities. Before, you might take a stroll and be unaware that you are near a school zone. However, this honest mistake would not prevent police from arresting you for violating the law.
Bear in mind that restrictions specific to your probation or parole may mean that you can’t be within 1000 feet of a school. Therefore, you should always verify the conditions of your restrictions to avoid re-incarceration.
Fortunately, today you can use the mistake of law as a reason for violating SORA. According to its update, SORA will not pursue prosecuting sex offender registrants who only violated the act because they did not understand the law. However, you must still prove that your violation was not willful or intentional.
Today you can look forward to the registry removing your name and identifying information if the state expunges the criminal sexual misconduct that required registration. In addition, the sex offender registry will also remove your name if the state sets aside your offense or you complete a supervision term under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act.
Now, let’s review which sections of SORA remain unchanged. SORA continues to require extensive information reporting from the registrant. According to SORA’s rules, identifying information must be shared with the public. Relatives, friends, co-workers, classmates, neighbors, and strangers may access your personal information. The following information is posted on state and national websites.
- A profile picture of your face
- Your home address
- Your school, if it applies
- Your place of employment
You must update your sex offender profile on your own whenever you enroll in a new school, change addresses, change employment, or buy or sell a vehicle. Moreover, you must continue in-person reporting to confirm this information.
See here for a complete list of sex crimes that require sex offender registration.
If the state places you in this tier, you must register for at least fifteen years. Unlike the other tiers, your registration will not be accessible to the public. Rather, private databases and law enforcement agents may access your registration. Also, SORA still requires you to participate in in-person reporting at police stations to confirm your address and other identifying information. You must update information with law enforcement annually. You must meet with law enforcement agents each year between January 1 and January 15 if you are in this tier.
Sex offender registrants in this tier must continue to register for twenty-five years unless exceptional circumstances make you eligible for early removal. SORA requires you to meet with law enforcement at a police station to verify your information, such as your home address and place of employment. You must conduct this in-person meeting twice per year because this tier is for offenders who have committed more serious crimes than those in tier one. Your in-person verification will occur between January 1 and January 15 and between July 1 and July 15. Defendants that the court adjudicated as juveniles, who would otherwise be in this tier, are not required to register on the sex offender registry.
Offenders in tier three must register as sex offenders for the remainder of their lives. If the court places you here, you must conduct an in-person verification with law enforcement at a police station four times a year. The law requires you to meet four times a year because the penal system only places offenders with the most egregious sexual offenses here. This registration occurs between January 1 and January 15, April 1 and April 15, July 1 and July 15, and October 1 and October 15. Be prepared to show proof of home address, place of employment, and school.
Michigan Sex Offender Statistics
Michigan has the fourth-largest sex offender population in America. Studies concluded this after comparing the number of sex offender registrants with the state’s population. More than 39,000 Michigan residents must register as sexual offenders. That equals four hundred registrants per one-hundred thousand Michigan residents. This recent report is from 2021. Unfortunately, this means that sex crimes, reporting of sex crimes, prosecution of sex crimes, or all three are on an uptick because only 32,000 Michigan residents had to register as sex offenders in 2019. An increase of seven thousand registrants in two years opens the door for many questions.
Collateral Consequences Of A Sex Crime Conviction In Michigan
After the state files a sex crime charge against you, you will most likely focus on the primary consequences following a conviction. Incarceration, fines, sex offender registration, and stigma are probably what first comes to mind. However, there are many other potential consequences you will face. These consequences continue to negatively impact your life and derail your education and career goals. This includes but is not limited to:
- Failure to find new employment or loss of employment
- Expulsion from an educational program
- Loss of professional licensure, certifications, or security clearances
- Inability to secure housing or obtain a mortgage
- Ineligibility to hold public office or serve on a jury of your peers
- Loss of child custody or court-mandated supervised visitation only
- Ineligibility to vote
- Ineligibility to own firearms (if a jury finds you guilty of a violent felony offense)
- Inability to secure financial aid
- Inability to travel freely in and out of Michigan
The severity of your offense plays a significant role in the collateral consequences. The more egregious the offense, the more likely these collateral consequences will affect you in the long term, if not permanently.
For example, suppose that a jury convicts you with assault with intent to commit sexual penetration. Without question, your employer will release you from work. The result? You and your family incur financial burdens. Perhaps you could’ve paid your bills faithfully if you were still employed. However, without a stable income, you and your family now struggle to pay bills on time and live the life you were once accustomed to. Now, suppose that you start job hunting post-incarceration. Most jobs require a background check, especially good-paying jobs or jobs with benefits. But your employer can refuse to hire you after this crime shows up in the background check. In this case, the harm to your employment opportunities may feel worse than serving probation or time behind bars.
Michigan Sex Crime Defense Attorneys
Are you accused of committing a sex crime in Michigan? If so, do not lose hope. Instead, contact a sex crimes lawyer as soon as possible. The skilled Michigan sex crimes lawyers at George Law dedicate themselves to protecting you in sex crime cases. We will carefully examine your case, review your legal options, and execute all viable and reasonable defenses to fight these charges. We will, too, if the prosecutor wants to put the gloves on. We look forward to ensuring that you get the best resolution to your case. Schedule a free consultation online or call us at (248) 470-4300 to learn more.