What is Second Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct? CSC 2 Definition

Second Degree Criminal Sexual ConductSecond Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct in Michigan ("CSC 2") is serious business. If you or someone you know is being accused of this crime, you've probably already searched online and come across a link to the text of the official Michigan CSC 2 law, MCL 750.520c.

The first thing you'll notice is that it's long. Second, it's complicated enough to make your head spin. Even after reading the whole law with all of its technical terms, you still may be left wondering "What is the definition of Second Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct?"

Well, at Prain Law, PLLC, the Michigan Sex Crimes Defense Law Firm, we're here to help... In this page, we're going to explain CSC 2 in simple, plain English. What you won't find here are the words from MCL 750.520c, just copied and pasted like everywhere else on the internet. Rather, 2nd Degree CSC will be explained as it would if we were sitting down with each other having a conversation. As always with sex crimes laws, use of graphic terms is necessary to get down to the point.

TAKE NOTE: this article does not address the Sentence.

For starters, notice that every instance of Second Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct begins with some intentional "sexual contact."

Under Michigan law, "sexual contact" includes any of the following types of contact:

  • intentionally touching the genital area of another person, or intentionally making them touch your genital area;
  • intentionally touching the groin of another person, or intentionally making them touch your groin;
  • intentionally touching the inner thigh of another person, or intentionally making them touch your inner thigh;
  • intentionally touching the buttocks of another person, or making them touch your buttocks; or
  • intentionally touching the breast of another person, or making them touch your breast.

*You should note that actual "sexual penetration" (rather than just "contact," or mere touching) in Michigan is charged either as First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct or Third Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct.

But what makes the above types of touching "sexual"? We all know of examples of touching these areas that aren't meant to be "sexual" at all.

An athlete jokingly taps his teammate on the butt during a game. Is he a sex offender? A mother swats her toddler on the behind as punishment. Is she going to Prison for 15 years? An understanding father sits next to his crying daughter and places his hand on her leg to show affection and comfort her. Is this man a child molester? Of course not.

"Sexual contact" means intentional touching "done for sexual purposes or [which] could reasonably be construed as having been done for sexual purposes." If you're charged with 2nd Degree CSC, the Prosecution has to prove this beyond a reasonable doubt.

But here's the big question you're still probably asking: "Are you telling me all 'sexual contact' is a crime? Isn't sex allowed between consenting adults of legal age?" Absolutely.

The second aspect of CSC 2 is that the sexual contact must have an "aggravating circumstance" along with it.

"Aggravating circumstances" fall into 7 basic categories:

  1. Age of alleged victim
  2. Committing another felony at the same time
  3. Another person helping commit the alleged crime
  4. Weapon use
  5. Force or coercion is used, plus injury
  6. Alleged victims who are mentally or physically disabled
  7. Alleged victims who are Prisoners or Probationers.

These circumstances are also commonly called "multiple variables" when more than one applies to the same case. Important: For the most part, Second Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct is a "mirror image" of First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct. The main difference: the more serious CSC 1 involves actual penetration, while CSC 2 involves mere touching ("sexual contact").

All of the above categories of "aggravating circumstances" that make the act criminal are the same between CSC 1 and CSC 2 (but only CSC 2 has the 7th category). A few days ago, we published our companion article on CSC 1: What is First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct? CSC 1 Definition. If you scroll down and look at numbered paragraphs 1-6, you can simply substitute the words "sexual contact" each time you see "sexual penetration." Then, those paragraphs will apply the same to Second Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct (except CSC 2 has a 7th category added, addressed below).

Therefore, the explanations that follow for categories 1-6 are explained below in short-form, and you can refer to that previous article for further detail.

1) Alleged Victim's Age: Any act of "sexual contact" on a person under age 13 is automatically Criminal Sexual Conduct in the Second Degree. If the victim is 13 or older, but under 16, sexual contact becomes 2nd Degree CSC if: a) they live in the same household; b) they are related; c) the accused in a position of authority over the alleged victim; d) the accused is a teacher or principal at their school where the alleged victim attends; or e) the accused works at or volunteers at the school, daycare, or foster home of the alleged victim.

2) Other Felony at Same Time: When "sexual contact" happens under circumstances involving the commission of another felony at the same time (such as an Armed Robbery, Kidnapping or Home Invasion), that can also be Second Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct.

RELATED: click here to chat with a Sex Crimes Defense Lawyer.

3) Other Persons Involved: Sexual contact becomes CSC 2nd Degree when the accused is aided or abetted by another person, and in addition to the other person's aid, either: a) the alleged victim is mentally incapable, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless and the accused knows it or should know that, or b) "force or coercion" is used in the sexual contact.

RELATED: Definition of "Force or Coercion" in Michigan (scroll down).

4) Weapons: If the accused has a weapon or something that looks like a weapon during an act of "sexual contact," that can be charged as CSC 2 in Michigan.

5) Force or Coercion Plus Personal Injury: Sexual contact also becomes Criminal Sexual Conduct in the Second Degree when the accused uses force or coercion to accomplish it, and the alleged victim suffers a personal injury. It is worth noting that if sexual contact occurs by force or coercion, but not causing any injury or any of the other aggravating circumstances discussed in on this page, then normally the charge would be Fourth Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct.

6) Mental or Physical Disability: Sexual contact with an alleged victim who is mentally incapable, mentally disabled, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless can be CSC 2 if, additionally, the accused: a) is a relative; or b) has a position of authority, and uses that authority to coerce the alleged victim to submit to the sexual contact.

7) Alleged Victims in Jail, Prison, Juvenile Detention, or on Probation: This is the final major category of circumstances that elevate an otherwise legal act of sexual contact into the serious felony crime of Second Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct. This category is unique to CSC 2 - it is the only one not also found in CSC 1. Sexual contact becomes CSC 2 if: a) the alleged victim is under the jurisdiction of the Michigan Department of Corrections ("MDOC") and the accused works there as an employee, volunteer, or subcontracted employee of MDOC (or a private youth correctional facility) and knows the alleged victim is under MDOC's jurisdiction; b) the alleged victim is in County Jail (including Work program) or on Probation and the accused works for the County or MDOC as an employee, volunteer, or subcontracted employee; or c) the alleged victim is either in Jail, Prison, or otherwise locked-up awaiting a Due Process court proceeding like a trial, or a juvenile found responsible for a crime and already serving a sentence as punishment, and the accused is an employee, volunteer, or subcontracted employee of that facility.

Although this is confusing, a simple example that we often hear of that would be Second Degree CSC in this scenario would be a Jail Deputy or Corrections Officer who intentionally fondles a prisoner for sexual gratification during a routine search.


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Prain Law, PLLC is focused only on the types charges featured on our website. This helps us deliver the decisive, effective advocacy for which our clients know us. We only serve individuals currently under investigation or who have a current case pending in court. Our firm does not represent injury victims, defendants who have already taken a plea or have been sentenced, or those seeking to expunge a criminal record. We do not respond to anyone who is not involved in a pending investigation or who has a court case for a type of charge we do not handle, but we wish you the very best of luck.