Current times have led to new attitudes toward criminal accusations and their consequences. The #MeToo phenomenon started as an empowerment movement for women who felt victimized or attacked by co-workers, former boyfriends, bosses and powerful men the world over. Though the statute of limitations has passed for many cases, accusers have pursued monetary compensation in civil court.
One notable case has involved the famous lawyer Alan Dershowitz, whose encounter with accusations of sexual misconduct preceded #MeToo and resulted in a civil lawsuit, an FBI investigation, and dismissal of charges by the presiding judge.
If you have been falsely accused of sexual assault, it is important to focus on protecting your rights and aggressively defending your actions and intent. Assault crimes are serious in Michigan and all around the country, so it is crucial to know what to do if someone has accused you of criminal conduct.
Defending against charges of sexual assault
Because sexual assault charges are so serious, it is important to remember that anything you say or do after the accusation can and will be used against you. Any incriminating statements that the accused makes when they are not yet in custody can tie them down to a location, time, or activity. Admitting to having a device that they were using during the event in question may lead to a search and seizure to obtain revealing information that the prosecution will use against them.
If you have been falsely accused of sexual assault, do not:
- Tell the police your side of the story.
- Try to work it out with the victim or try to apologize.
- Post about it on social media.
- Try to handle it without hiring an attorney.
There are many reasons for these warnings, but they basically boil down to one familiar phrase: “Anything you say can and will be used against you in court.” The accusations behind these charges can feel very personal, and it is perhaps normal that anyone accused of sexual assault will want to explain their side of the story right away, but doing so can put the person in great legal jeopardy. It is much smarter to get the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney who will do the talking for them.
Michigan sexual assault laws
In Michigan, the Criminal Sexual Conduct law defines sexual assault as coercion, intimidation, or force directed toward an individual to perform sexual contact or penetration that is non-consensual, and may occur to either sex, or to a stranger, or someone who has a marital, acquaintance, child, or dating relationship with the accused.
A sexual assault charge can lead to a misdemeanor conviction with up to two years in prison, or first-, second-, or third-degree felony conviction with penalties ranging from 15 years to life imprisonment. Charges also include mandatory sex offender registration. The statute of limitations for sexual assaults in Michigan varies by the level of the offense. For Criminal Sexual Conduct in the First Degree, there is no statute of limitations.