Criminal Sexual Conduct in Michigan – Related by Blood or Affinity

Criminal Sexual Conduct Related by Blood or Affinity

Sexual penetration or sexual contact wth a relative could land a Michigan citizen in Prison for a long time. CSC charges based on incest get even more serious when the alleged victim is under 16 years old.

Sexual conduct with someone who is closely related to you is a crime under Michigan law.  Criminal Sexual Conduct charges in Michigan can become more severe if you are related to the alleged victim and they are “at least 13 but less than 16 years of age.”  Sexual conduct with a relative is commonly known as “incest,” and Michigan punishes different levels of incest based on the relationship and the age of the accuser.  In this article, top rated Michigan Criminal Sexual Conduct Defense Lawyer Brian J. Prain explains the circumstances where this can occur.  But first, a basic understanding of the “degrees” of Criminal Sexual Conduct in Michigan (“CSC”) will be necessary.

RELATED: Another trial victory for Criminal Defense Attorney Brian J. Prain, Assault With Intent to Commit CSC!  

The basic Michigan CSC charges are broken down into four basic degrees.  The first question is: was there penetration, or just sexual contact (touching) alleged?  If penetration is alleged, the charge would be either 1st Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct or 3rd Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct.  The definition of penetration under Michigan’s CSC laws means penetrating any part of the alleged victim’s body with any part of your body (even slight entry is enough), or oral sex (fellatio or cunnilingus, giving or receiving).  1st Degree CSC, punishable by up to LIFE in Prison, is more serious than 3rd Degree CSC, which is punishable by up to 15 years in Prison.

The definition of sexual contact under Michigan’s CSC laws is touching for sexual purposes (or reasonably construed as for sexual purposes) of the alleged victim’s genital area, groin, inner thigh, buttock, breast, or the clothing covering these areas.  This includes making the alleged victim touch these areas on you.  If sexual contact is alleged but actual penetration is not, the charge would be either 2nd Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct or 4th Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct.  2nd Degree CSC, punishable by up to 15 years, is more serious than 4th Degree CSC, which is punishable by up to 2 years in Prison.

RELATED: How can I be charged with CSC just based on an accusation with no evidence?  

Whether a CSC is charged as the more serious or less serious version depends on whether certain “multiple variables” are present.  To restate that in plain English, it means it depends on whether certain things are alleged that make the crime worse.  For example, sexual penetration by force or coercion is 3rd Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct, while sexual penetration by force or coercion but with the additional factor of a weapon being used is 1st Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct.  Get the picture?

For more information on what multiple variables make up the Michigan degrees of CSC, visit our Main Sex Crimes Page.

Any form of sexual penetration or sexual contact with a close relative could leave you facing Criminal Sexual Conduct charges in Michigan.  That is because “related by blood or affinity” is one of the “multiple variables” that make a CSC more serious, increasing a 4th Degree CSC to 2nd Degree CSC, or a 3rd Degree CSC to a 1st Degree CSC whenever the alleged victim is “at least 13 but less than 16 years of age.”  The Michigan CSC laws state that if the alleged victim is “at least 13 but less than 16 years of age” and the accused person is “related by blood or affinity to the fourth degree to the victim,” the CSC charge can be increased to First Degree CSC (for penetration cases) or Second Degree CSC (for touching cases).  

Things can change if the alleged victim is a little older, though.  If the alleged victim is 16 or older, and is only “related by blood or affinity to the third degree” (rather than fourth degree), then the charge would be Third Degree CSC (for penetration cases) or Fourth Degree CSC (for touching cases).    

RELATED: I’ve been falsely accused of Criminal Sexual Conduct – should I take a Polygraph?

According to the Michigan Supreme Court in a case called People v. Jajaczkowski, being related by blood means having a common ancestor, and being related by affinity means being related as a result of marriage.

  • “to the fourth degree” simply means that it includes: children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, great great grandchildren, siblings, nieces and nephews, grand nieces and nephews, and first cousins.  
  • “to the third degree” means the same thing, but does not include great great grandchildren, grand nieces and nephews, nor first cousins.   

Note that REGARDLESS of whether they are a relative or what the relationship is, ANY sexual conduct with ANY person under 13 years of age is automatically either 1st Degree CSC (for penetration cases) or 2nd Degree CSC (for touching cases).   

Here are some examples of sexual conduct between relatives and the corresponding Michigan CSC charges:

  • Donald is accused of touching the breast of his sister-in-law’s 15 year-old daughter, Victoria.  Donald is charged with 2nd Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct because Victoria is his niece, because she is older than 13 and younger than 16, but no penetration is alleged.  Donald faces up to 15 years in Prison and public Sex Offender Registration for 25 years, beginning upon his release from Jail or Prison.       
  • David is accused of having full-on sexual intercourse with his 16 year-old daughter, Valerie.  David is charged with 3rd Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct because Valerie is his child, because she is at least 16 years old, and because penetration is alleged.  David faces up to 15 years in Prison and public Sex Offender Registration for the rest of his life.    
  • Donna is a accused of engaging in a sex act with her 18 year-old nephew, Vince where he allegedly performed oral sex on her.  Donna is charged with 3rd Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct because Vince is her nephew, because he is at least 16 years old, and because penetration is alleged (remember, even receiving cunnilingus is considered “penetration” in Michigan).  Donna faces up to 15 years in Prison and public Sex Offender Registration for the rest of her life.  
  • Daryl is accused of penetrating his 11 year-old granddaughter Veronica with his finger.  Daryl is charged with 1st Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct because Veronica is his granddaughter, because she is under 13 years of age, and because penetration is alleged.  Further, because Daryl is over 17 years of age and Veronica is under 13 years of age, Daryl is charged under an extremely harsh variation of the 1st Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct law and he faces at least 25 years in Prison, and a maximum of LIFE in Prison, public Sex Offender Registration for the rest of his life, and electronic monitoring (tether) for the rest of his life if he ever gets out of Prison.  
  • Devon, 16, has consensual sexual intercourse with a 16 year-old girl, Vicky, who he met at summer camp.  It later turns out that they are third cousins.  Ashamed, Vicky’s mother runs to the police and tells them about the sex, even though they agree it was consensual.  Devon is not charged with ANY crime because even though they are related, and even though there was penetration, third cousins are not “related by blood or affinity to the third degree.”

Just because you could be charged with a more serious degree of CSC based on a family relationship to the alleged victim doesn’t always mean the Prosecution will initially charge you with that more serious degree.  But they can add those charges later, such as at the Preliminary Exam should you choose to hold the hearing, rather than waive it.  Having an experienced Criminal Sexual Conduct Defense Attorney could mean the difference between spotting that possibility in your case and taking appropriate action or being charged with a LIFE offense by surprise.  

The right Criminal Defense Lawyer is something you can’t afford to compromise on.  Criminal Defense Attorney Brian J. Prain, was recently named one of the Top 20 Criminal Defense Lawyers in Detroit for 2016.  Brian has also been named Top 10 Criminal Defense Lawyer Under 40 by both the NACDA and AIOCLA, Top 10 Trial Lawyer Under 40 by The National Trial Lawyers, Top 100 by The National Trial Lawyers, Premier 100 by the American Academy of Trial Attorneys, and one of the Nation’s Top 1% by the National Association of Distinguished Counsel.  Brian can be found in Super Lawyers Magazine and Hour Detroit Magazine.  Brian’s firm, PrainLaw, PLLC has been named by the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys as one of the “Ten Best Law Firms” for client satisfaction.
If you are facing a Michigan Criminal Sexual Conduct charge, call PrainLaw, PLLC anytime at (248) 763-0641 or (844) CRIM-HELP.  You can also reach us using the Contact Form, below: