Sex Crimes and Sexual Assault
Sex crimes, including sexual assault offenses, carry some of the most severe and potentially damaging penalties of any crime – including life imprisonment and lifetime sex offender registration. These cases are highly fact-sensitive, extremely emotional, and too often come down to “he-said/she-said.” Because of the very personal nature of these crimes, you need a sex crimes defense attorney who can help you balance privacy concerns and aggressive defenses strategies.
Distinguishing Sexual Assault Objections
In Michigan, sexual assault offenses are known as criminal sexual conduct (CSC) and are distinguished by several factors including: the age of the victim, the relationship between the victim and the offender, whether or not there was penetration, and whether the use of force or a weapon was involved.
Penetration Offenses: First-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC-I) and third-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC-III) involve sexual penetration with a victim AND one or more aggravating factors, including but not limited to:
- The age or mental capacity of the victim
- The relationship between the parties (e.g. blood-related, teacher-student, etc.)
- The use of force or a weapon to accomplish the act
- Whether or not the act resulted in physical injury
Other aggravating factors include whether the perpetrator was in a position of trust over or significantly older than the victim. CSC-1, which carries a lifetime penalty, often involves extreme violence, deadly weapons, severe bodily injury, or an exceptionally young victim. CSC-3 is a 15-year felony.
Contact Offenses: Second-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC-II) and fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC-IV) involve sexual contact with a victim AND one or more of the aggravating factors listed above. The penalties for CSC-2 and CSC-4 are 15 years and 2 years, respectively.
Assault With Intent Offenses: Michigan law also covers sexual assault offenses where a defendant is said to have committed assault with the intent to commit sexual conduct (penetration or contact), though such conduct never actually occurred.
Other Michigan Sex Crimes
In addition to assault offenses, there are a variety of other sex-related offenses that carry severe consequences. At the Peter J. Johnson Law Office, we represent criminal defendants facing charges of:
- Possession of child pornography
- Creation or distribution of child pornography
- Child abuse with sexual elements
- Kidnapping a minor for sexual purposes
- Prostitution solicitation
- Indecent Exposure
These sex crimes have two things in common: (1) they include some form of illegal sexual activity or intent and (2) convictions result in mandatory listing on the state’s online sex offender registry.
The Michigan Sex Offender Registry Act
The Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA) requires those individuals convicted of certain “listed offenses” to register as sex offenders for a predetermined period of time. Those offenses are classified by Tiers (1-3), with the most severe offenses requiring lifetime registration four times a year with no relief for removal from the registry under any circumstances:
- Tier 1: Reporting 1 time per year for 15 years
- Tier 2: Reporting 2 times per year for 25 years
- Tier 3: Reporting 4 times per year for life
Under current law, with one very rare exception, judges and prosecutors are powerless to decide, or even recommend, whether or not a defendant should or shouldn’t be placed on the registry. This is why it is critical to have an attorney who understands the ramifications of SORA when you are charged with a sexual offense. Pleading guilty not only affects whether or not you go to prison or get probation, but will impact your quality of life long after your sentence is served.
Registered sex offenders are routinely abused and neglected by a fearful and misinformed public. Prosecutors and judges often don’t care what happens to you after you leave their courtroom, but your defense attorney should, and we’ll make sure you know what to expect as we work toward a best-case solution to your situation.
Contact us to schedule your free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney who will help evaluate the pros and cons of your criminal case, and the viability of proceeding to trial. We will also be your strongest advocate before Southwest Michigan’s prosecutors, judges, and juries as we work with you to explore all possible solutions to protect you from the lifetime consequences of a sex offense conviction.
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