Criminal Sexual Conduct - Michigan Supreme Court to Rule on Expert Testimony

In Michigan, thee are many types of Sex Crimes, but the basic charges are broken-down into four "degrees," referred to as Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC). All of these Michigan Sex Crimes are serious, because they are all punishable by Prison time and Sex Offender Registration.

On the extremely serious side is First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC 1), punishable by up to LIFE in Prison and a host of other maladies. Then there are Second Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC 2) and Third Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC 3), each punishable by up to 15 years in Prison, but they differ in that Second Degree CSC only requires "sexual contact," while Third Degree CSC requires actual sexual penetration. Fourth Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC 4), also based on sexual contact, is only considered a "misdemeanor" - but don't be fooled, you can still be put in Prison for up to two years and even put on the Sex Offender Registry for life depending on the case and your history when charged with CSC 4.

RELATED: click here to visit our Criminal Sexual Conduct main page.

As a Michigan Criminal Sexual Conduct Attorney defending those accused of these serious crimes, we often employ the use of expert testimony for the defense during trial. Our appeals Courts in Michigan have ruled several times about what expert witnesses in a Criminal Sexual Conduct case can testify to. For example, our Courts have ruled that an expert for either the defense or the prosecution in a CSC case may not testify that the person accusing you is or is not "credible" or "believable" - they cannot testify whether, in their expert opinion, either the accuser or you as the defendant telling the truth or not about what happened or did not happen. Ultimate credibility of any accuser or other witness is always for the jury to decide.

They can, however (and sometimes must) testify as to the reliability of the accuser, meaning they can testify as to things that may be causing them to make a false allegation, even if they believe, in their own mind, that it really happened. There is much more to the story than this, and this is but one example of what Criminal Sexual Conduct lawyers like Brian J. Prain have psychological expert witnesses testify to in appropriate cases where these types of scenarios are present. You can click here to read more about expert witnesses in Michigan Criminal Sexual Conduct cases.

Recently, the Michigan Supreme Court issued an Order stating that it will soon decide a case involving expert witness testimony in a Criminal Sexual Conduct case called People v. Joshua Lee Thorpe. In that case, Mr. Thorpe was convicted (not represented by our firm, Prain Law) of Criminal Sexual Conduct, partly by expert testimony put on by the prosecution (they can call experts, too). The prosecution called an expert witness to testify.

When Mr. Thorpe's attorney cross-examined the prosecution expert, he had their expert admit that children can lie and manipulate. When the prosecutor questioned their expert again on re-direct examination, the Judge allowed the expert to tell the jury about what they claimed to be the "rate of false reports" by children, essentially claiming that false reports are uncommon. This fact is highly in dispute. You can follow the progress of People v. Thorpe in the Michigan Supreme Court by clicking here.

The issue is that by law, and expert cannot offer an opinion in Court unless it meets certain scientific standards in terms of its reliability, testability, and the level of acceptance in their field of the methodology underlying their claims. This is called the "Daubert" standard, which comes from the name of a US Supreme Court case. The Michigan Supreme Court will soon decide whether the expert testimony in the Thorpe case was appropriate.

Most criminal defense attorneys will take any case that walks in their door. At Prain Law, PLLC, your Michigan Criminal Sexual Conduct Attorney, we concentrate exclusively on defending those accused of Criminal Sexual Conduct and other Assaultive crimes. In addition to a laundry list of awards and commendations, Brian J. Prain has been named one of Detroit's Top Lawyers for DBusiness Magazine in 2019. Every day, Brian is in Court somewhere in Michigan defending someone wrongly accused of Criminal Sexual Conduct. Call us anytime for a free consultation at (248) 731-4543, or contact us anytime via e-mail by clicking here.


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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.