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Michigan Criminal Sexual Conduct Lawyer

Fighting Criminal Sexual Conduct Charges in Michigan

Criminal Sexual Conduct charges are unlike any other criminal charge in Michigan. There are many reasons for this, but they all essentially fall into two main categories.

First, there is the public perception that attaches to those accused of Criminal Sexual Conduct, Sexual Abuse, and other Sex Crimes, regardless of guilt or innocence.

There are certain issues in society that divide the masses along lines that are so deeply rooted in the minds of the public (i.e. jurors), that many people have made up their mind about the case and the issues before even hearing a shred of evidence. Political affiliations, guns, civil liberties, and perhaps more than anything these days, Criminal Sexual Conduct.

Second, there are the unique laws and court procedures in Criminal Sexual Conduct cases. Rape Shield motions, special Rules of Evidence, and the fact that compared to other criminal charges, CSC cases have a high likelihood of going to Jury Trial.

When your life and future are on the line, it simply isn’t good enough to rely on a “Jack of all trades“ general practice Criminal Defense Attorney.

Make no mistake, if you or someone you love is charged with Criminal Sexual Conduct in Michigan, these are the two main obstacles you’re up against, and you’ll need a lawyer who possesses the knowledge, skill, training, and experience to carry you through and help you close the final chapter and this experience with a verdict of NOT GUILTY of Criminal Sexual Conduct.

Michigan Criminal Sexual Conduct Defense Attorney Brian J. Prain of PrainLaw, PLLC, has the experience to bring those powerful ingredients to your defense. Through painstaking labor, laser focus on CSC, and Jury Trial after Jury Trial, we’ve learned the right combination to unlock victory for you despite these seemingly insurmountable obstacles.


Call Prain Law, PLLC, your trusted Michigan criminal sexual conduct lawyer right now for the free, no-obligation consultation to put you back on the path to freedom.


Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC) charges in Michigan are often more serious than homicide. Split into 4 “degrees,” Michigan’s Criminal Sexual Conduct laws include penalties as harsh as life in prison without the possibility of parole. If you are convicted of Criminal Sexual Conduct, the likelihood of going to prison is very high. Other consequences include having to register as a sex offender, lifetime GPS tether, HIV/STD testing, and more.

Even for the innocent accused, a CSC charge is the fight of your life. Not every Michigan criminal sexual conduct lawyer has the skills, courage, and attention to detail to carry you through an experience like a CSC charge.



Possible Criminal Sexual Conduct Charges:

First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC 1)

First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct in Michigan (First Degree CSC) is the most serious of the Michigan Degrees of Criminal Sexual Conduct because it carries up to life in prison, consecutive sentencing, lifetime electronic monitoring (tether), and of course, a lifetime of Sex Offender Registration on the Michigan Sex Offender Registry (SORA).

  • The Law: MCL 750.520b
  • Penalty: Life in State Prison, possible Life without Parole, possible minimum 25 years, Lifetime GPS tether
  • Sex Offender Registration: Lifetime public registration, quarterly reporting (Tier 3)

Second Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC 2)

Compared to the other Michigan degrees of criminal sexual conduct, second degree criminal sexual conduct falls in the middle with a 15-year maximum sentence similar to third degree CSC, though it is defined and treated differently for sentencing. Second degree CSC is less serious than first degree CSC but more serious than fourth degree CSC.

  • The Law: MCL 750.520c
  • Penalty: 15 years in State Prison, possible Lifetime GPS tether
  • Sex Offender Registration: Lifetime or 25 years public registration, quarterly semi-annual reporting (Tier 2 or Tier 3, depending)

Third Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC 3)

CSC 3 always contains an act of "sexual penetration," and it includes (but is not limited to) what is often referred to as common-law "rape."

  • The Law: MCL 750.520d
  • Penalty: 15 years in State Prison
  • Sex Offender Registration: Lifetime public registration, quarterly reporting (Tier 3)

Fourth Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC 4)

Fourth Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct in Michigan ("CSC 4") is a "high court misdemeanor" which essentially means that the law calls it a misdemeanor, but it is punished as a felony. Every Fourth Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct case is based on some form of "sexual contact."

  • The Law: MCL 750.520e
  • Penalty: 2 years in State Prison and/or $500.00 fine
  • Sex Offender Registration: Lifetime, 25 or 15 years public registration (depending on age of Complainant), quarterly, semi-annual, or annual reporting (Tier 1, Tier 2, or Tier 3, depending)

Assault With Intent to Commit Criminal Sexual Conduct Involving Sexual Penetration

A conviction of Assault With Intent to Commit Sexual Penetration is a felony offense that may cause you to go to State Prison for up to 10 years or more if you've previously been convicted of any other felony. You will also have to register as a sex offender.

  • The Law: MCL 750.520g
  • Penalty: 10 years in State Prison
  • Sex Offender Registration: Lifetime public registration, quarterly reporting (Tier 3)

Assault With Intent to Commit Criminal Sexual Conduct in the Second Degree

  • The Law: MCL 750.520g
  • Penalty: 5 years in State Prison
  • Sex Offender Registration: Lifetime, 25 or 15 years public registration (depending on age of Complainant), quarterly, semi-annual, or annual reporting (Tier 1, Tier 2, or Tier 3, depending)

Accosting, Enticing or Soliciting a Child for Immoral Purposes (Accosting a Minor for Immoral Purposes)

If you are convicted of accosting, enticing or soliciting a child for immoral purposes you will be required register on the Michigan Sex Offender Registry, most likely for a period of 25 years. This is considered to be a felony offense.

  • The Law: MCL 750.145a
  • Penalty: 4 years in State Prison and/or $4,000.00 fine
  • Sex Offender Registration: 25 years public registration, semi-annual reporting (Tier 2)

Gross Indecency

Gross indecency involves committing sexual acts in a public place. A conviction of Gross Indecency in Michigan can result in a sentence of up to 5 years or higher in State Prison depending on the circumstances.

Child Sexually Abusive Material (and Child Sexually Abusive Activity)

Possession, distribution or production of child sexually abusive materials can result in up to 20 years in Prison and a $100,000.00 fine, depending on the circumstances.

  • The Law: MCL 750.145c
  • Penalty: 4, 7, 0r 20 years in State Prison and or a $10,000, $50,000, or $100,000 fine, respectively, depending on whether the alleged offense involves knowing possession, distribution, or production of the Child Sexually Abusive Material.
  • Sex Offender Registration: 25 or 15 years public registration, annual or semi-annual reporting (Tier 1 or 2, depending)

Indecent Exposure and Aggravated Indecent Exposure

Committing an act of indecent exposure can result in up to 1 year in Jail, up to a $1000.00 fine or even sex offender registration. If you are facing charges for indecent exposure, our Michigan criminal sexual conduct lawyer can help.

  • The Law: MCL 750.335a
  • Penalty: 1 year in Jail and/or a $1,000 fine (Indecent Exposure); 2 years in Prison and/or a $2,000 fine (Aggravated Indecent Exposure)
  • Sex Offender Registration: Possible 15 years public registration (Tier 1)

Defense Strategies for Criminal Sexual Conduct

Strategies for Criminal Sexual Conduct fall into two main categories, which we address below:

  1. It didn’t happen
  2. Something happened, but it’s not criminal sexual conduct

It didn't happen is exactly what it sounds like. The "it" refers to the alleged sexual contact or sexual penetration that the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt. That is to say, the accuser is either lying or somehow mistaken about the alleged sexual contact or sexual penetration.

Generally, the defense exposes this by revealing weaknesses in the accuser's credibility, such as outright lying or having a history of prior false allegations of sexual assault. The defense may also raise doubts about the accuser's reliability, such as by using an expert witness to show how a child's allegation has likely been the product of suggestibility by a biased parent which often occurs during breakups or divorces. If you want to help your CSC defense attorney to best defend you, simply ask yourself, "What would people want to know about my accuser to help them understand why they should not be trusted?" While there are some restrictive limitations on your ability to expose this, such as the Michigan Rape Shield Law, your lawyer will handle that, but you should assume that almost any fact is fair game.

Something happened, but it's not criminal sexual conduct is more complicated. This refers to a situation where the prosecution can likely prove beyond a reasonable doubt that something meets the definition of the alleged "sexual contact" or "sexual penetration," but the prosecution is simply wrong about the surrounding facts and circumstances that they claim makes it illegal.

This wouldn't apply in a case of first degree CSC or second degree CSC, where the only issue is the alleged victim being underage, and there is no legitimate dispute about their age at the time. This is called "strict liability," which prevents the defendant from offering evidence that their accuser consented (since underage people cannot legally consent).

This defense for CSC refers to situations where, for example, there is no dispute that a man and a woman of legal age had sexual intercourse, but the woman now claims that she did not legally consent — essentially, that it was a "rape" (although Michigan sex crimes laws no longer use this term to define any particular crime). Perhaps the prosecution has DNA evidence from a SANE Examination (rape kit) or a statement from the accused acknowledging having sex, but sex alone is not a crime. In these cases where the prosecution claims sex by "force or coercion," relevant questions include:

  • What was the relationship leading up to the sex?
  • Where and how did the sex occur?
  • Were there any signs of physical restraint by the accused or resistance by the alleged victim?
  • Were drugs or alcohol involved?
  • Was the alleged victim "mentally incapable, mentally disabled, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless" (as defined by law)?
  • Were police called immediately?
  • Was there a rape kit or DNA evidence? Where was the accused's DNA found or not found, and how does it compare to the accuser's story?
  • Is there evidence of calls, texts, or other communication before and after the sex? What do they indicate?
  • Did the accused and alleged victim see each other again after the sex? What were the circumstances?
  • Are there any particular reasons to believe the accuser has a motive to intentionally lie or otherwise be confused or regretful after the fact?

The Element of Consent in CSC Cases

Finally, you may have noticed that we've discussed "force or coercion," but we haven't really focused on consent as a defense theory. That's because the defense of consent in Michigan is in-fact one of those limited circumstances mentioned above where the defense has to offer evidence of it. In other words, consent is an affirmative defense. Even if you could prove consent, it would not be a defense where the alleged victim is underage. But as you might imagine, consentis often a legitimate, determinative issue in cases where "force or coercion" is one of the elements the prosecution must prove for the degree of CSC you are charged with. This is a complicated topic.

There is a difference between simply raising doubts about the prosecution's ability to prove "force or coercion" beyond a reasonable doubt and showing evidence in support of an affirmative defense of consent. However, there is often a significant amount of overlap, and typically the only difference comes down to which side is calling the witnesses to the stand.

​​​​​​Facing Criminal Sexual Conduct charges? We can help you navigate the complexities of your particular situation. Contact our Michigan criminal sexual conduct attorney by calling (248) 731-4543.

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