Michigan has served as a model to other states for implementing comprehensive sexual assault laws.  Michigan was the first state to enact a rape shield law prohibiting the use of a victim’s sexual history as evidence except under limited and carefully defined circumstances. 

Current sexual assault law in Michigan is gender neutral, places the burden of proof on the actions of the abuser and not on the victim’s level of resistance, and recognizes the complexities of sexual assault, including the different types of force used and varying degrees of sexual contact.  For this reason, it is important to seek out an experienced Grand Rapids sexual assault attorney if you have been charged with sexual assault in Michigan.

What Is Sexual Assault?

Broadly speaking, sexual assault is a statutory criminal offense involving any unwanted sexual act either through force, coercion, or threats.  Types of sexual assault charges include:

  • Rape and attempted rape
  • Marital rape
  • Inappropriate touching
  • Child molestation
  • Incest

There are four degrees of Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC) within Michigan sexual assault law.  The degree of CSC is dependent on a number of factors, including the victim’s age, mental capacity, and the use of weapons.

  • First and third degree CSC—Forced or coerced sexual penetration or intercourse with a body part or object
  • Second and fourth degree CSC—Forced or coerced sexual contact, including touching of intimate parts or clothing covering these parts for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification

Sexual Assault Penalties

The penalties for sexual assault charges can be serious and life-changing.  The level of punishment varies considerably, depending on the circumstances of the crime.  A misdemeanor offense may receive minimal jail time plus a fine and community service or counseling, whereas a felony conviction could lead to life in prison.  A skilled criminal defense attorney in Grand Rapids can be crucial in determining what kind of sentence a person might receive.

The specific penalties according to degree of CSC are as follows:

  • Fourth degree CSC—Up to 2 years in prison and/or a fine of $500
  • Third degree CSC—Up to 15 years in prison
  • Second degree CSC—Up to 15 years in prison
  • First degree CSC—Up to life in prison (considered a felony conviction due to certain circumstances, including the victim’s age, incapacity, familial relationship to the assailant, use of weapons, or involvement of another felony crime)

Additionally, the state of Michigan requires all individuals convicted of a sexual assault charge to register their address with law enforcement.

This information provided by:
Jeffrey J. O’Hara
161 Ottawa Avenue Northwest
Grand Rapids, MI 49503-2701

Michigan has served as a model to other states for implementing comprehensive sexual assault laws.  Grand Rapids sexual assault attorney Jeffrey J. O’Hara explains what constitutes sexual assault in Michigan as well as what the potential penalties are if convicted.

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