Allegations of criminal sexual conduct in Michigan will inevitably stoke fear in the person who is accused. Not only will there be harsh consequences for a conviction, but it will carry with it negative connotations that will follow the person around in their personal and professional life. Knowing the difference between misdemeanor and felony criminal sexual conduct is imperative as part of a defense.
Understanding how misdemeanor and felony criminal sexual conduct differ
For a fourth-degree misdemeanor, one of the following must be in place: the sexual contact occurred when the victim was older than 13 and younger than 16 and the accused is at least five years older; there was force or coercion such as using a threat of violence; the victim is mentally incapacitated or otherwise unable to consent; the parties were related in some way; the accused person is a mental health professional who had treated the victim within the prior two years; it was a teacher or other school employee; or the victim is at least 16 and younger than 26 and was receiving education services where the accused was an employee or contractor.
It will be a first-degree felony if the above circumstances are in place and there was sexual penetration; if the victim was younger than 13; if the victim was 13 and younger than 16 and the accused resided in the same household, they were related by blood or affinity or it was a person who was in a position of authority over the victim; if there was more than one person involved in the act; there was force, incapacitation or the victim was injured; or if it happened while the accused was committing a separate felony. It is a second-degree felony if there was no penetration and the same issues are in place as for a first-degree felony. A third-degree felony occurs if the victim is 13 to 15-years-old; he or she was forced or coerced; or the victim was incapacitated in some way.
It is crucial to fight back against allegations of sex-based crimes
Since the penalties vary depending on how the criminal act is categorized, a comprehensive criminal defense is essential. A first-degree felony conviction will result in life imprisonment and registration as a sex offender. Both second and third-degree felonies will result in up to 15 years in prison and registering as a sex offender. A misdemeanor can warrant two years in prison and a fine of $500. Simply being accused does not automatically mean a person is guilty. Having experienced guidance is vital to analyze the case, assess the evidence and create a strategy to try and reduce the charges, get an acquittal or have them dropped completely.