What is First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct? CSC 1 Definition

First Degree Criminal Sexual ConductIf you or someone you know and care for is fighting a charge of First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct in Michigan ("CSC 1"), you've probably already searched the internet and found the Michigan CSC 1 law, MCL 750.520b. Reading this law, you'll probably notice that it's long, confusing, and doesn't seem to make much sense in plain English. To put it bluntly, it's awful, and after reading it, it leaves the reader incapable of answering the basic question "What is First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct?" In this page, we're going to explain CSC 1 in plain english. You won't find any copy-and-paste from the law, just a common-sense explanation in normal language that is useful to the lawyer and non-lawyer alike. Please excuse the use of any graphic terms, as they are necessary to fully explain the law. NOTE: this page does not address the Sentence. For information on the Sentence for First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct in Michigan, click here. RELATED: click here to visit Prain Law, PLLC's main page for First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct. Now, let's get on to our subject at hand. For starters, there are many different circumstances where a person can be convicted of CSC 1, but in any case, it is a crime that always involves "sexual penetration." "Sexual penetration" isn't just penile/vaginal penetration between a male and female. Sexual penetration means the following things (any entry, no matter how slight, is enough):
  • putting any part of the body or any other object into another person's genital or anal opening;
  • putting one's penis into another person's mouth;
  • touching (no actual "penetration") of another person's genital organs or genital opening with the mouth or tongue.
*Note that acts of "sexual contact" (rather than penetration) are charged in Michigan as either Second Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct or Fourth Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct. When a person does any of the above-listed things, that is considered "sexual penetration" under MCL 750.520b. But obviously, just doing one of the above doesn't make a person guilty of a crime, because these things are perfectly legal between two consenting individuals who are of age. In order to make one of these acts of sexual penetration criminal, it requires some type of "aggravating circumstance" that makes it illegal. For First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct, all of these "aggravating circumstances" have to do with one of 6 things: 1) the alleged victim's age, 2) the accused committing another felony at the same time, 3) another person helping the accused commit the CSC crime, 4) the use of a weapon or something that looks like a weapon; 5) the use of force or coercion along with causing a personal injury to the alleged victim, or 6) situations involving an alleged victim who is mentally or physically disabled. These aggravating circumstances are also referred to as "multiple variables" in cases where the Prosecution alleges that more than one applies. 1) Age: Acts of sexual penetration performed on another person can be First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct based on that person's age. Any act of "sexual penetration" on a person under age 13 is automatically Criminal Sexual Conduct in the First Degree, regardless of any other fact. The other "age" category for CSC 1 is where the alleged victim is at least 13 but under 16, and one of six other facts exists. Instead of using the technical language of MCL 750.520b, we will use plain language. Here's what they are:
  • the accused lives in the same household or is related to the alleged victim;
  • the accused is in a position of authority over the alleged victim (counselor, babysitter, etc.);
  • the accused is a teacher or principal at the school where the alleged victim attends;
  • the accused is an employee, volunteer, or subcontracted employee of the school where the alleged victim attends (i.e. a custodian or food service worker);
  • the accused is an employee, volunteer, or subcontracted employee of a day care, other care center, or foster home where the alleged victim is.
While a certain degree of minute detail has been omitted to make this understandable, the point is that if someone engages in sexual penetration with a person over 13 but under 16, and any of the above things are true, that's First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct. 2) "Another Felony": If an act of "sexual penetration" occurs under circumstances involving the commission of another felony at the same time, that constitutes First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct. It does not matter whether the alleged victim is a minor, is of the age of legal consent, or what their age is period. This aspect of CSC 1 could occupy an entire book, and if you have questions about this, you should contact a top Metro Detroit Criminal Defense Lawyer. But for demonstration purposes, one example would be engaging in sexual penetration with the occupant of a home during the commission of a crime of Home Invasion. 3) Other People Being Involved: The third way that an otherwise legal act of sexual penetration can turn into the crime of 1st Degree CSC is where the accused is "aided or abetted" by one or more other persons. "Aiding and abetting" means doing something to assist the accused in committing the unlawful sexual act, such as offering aid or encouragement. But just offering aid or encouragement to someone else doing an act of sexual penetration doesn't make it CSC 1. On top of that, there must be either: a) an alleged victim who is mentally incapable, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless and the accused knows it or should know it; or b) an accused who uses force or coercion to accomplish the sexual penetration. For example, performing oral sex on a physically helpless person while another person blocks the door to avoid witnesses from seeing or hearing any part of the act is First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct in Michigan, even without using "force" or "coercion." RELATED: click here for the definition of Force or Coercion in Michigan (scroll about halfway down the page). 4) Weapons: Weapons are the fourth way that an act of sexual penetration becomes CSC 1. If, during the sexual penetration, the accused has a weapon or anything that looks like a weapon, that can constitute First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct. 5) Force or Coercion and Injury: The fifth category are cases where the accused uses force or coercion to accomplish the sexual penetration and in the course of events, the alleged victim suffers a personal injury. An example of this would be where an attacker holds another person down and forces them to perform oral sex on them against their will, and in so doing, the other person's head strikes an object and a head concussion results. Note that if sexual penetration occurs by force or coercion, but without the added element of "personal injury" - what is referred to as Common-law "Rape," that is called Third Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct in Michigan. Again, remember that unless age is specifically mentioned, it does not matter whether the alleged victim is a minor or is of legal age. Also, any act of sexual penetration that meets any of the definitions on this page can be CSC 1 regardless of the gender of the accused and the alleged victim. For example, there are plenty of women in Michigan Prisons for acts of Criminal Sexual Conduct upon other women or girls. 6) Mental or Physical Disability: The sixth and final major category of fact patterns that takes sexual penetration and turns it into First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct is where the alleged victim is mentally incapable, mentally disabled, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless and the accused is either: a) a relative of the alleged victim; or b) in a position of authority over the alleged victim and uses that authority to coerce the alleged victim to submit to the sexual penetration. Notice that this is different than just forcing someone, it means using authority to convince them to agree to the act. For example, an aunt or uncle who performs oral sex on a mentally handicapped niece or nephew is guilty of 1st Degree CSC, as would be a store manager who uses their authority over a mentally challenged employee to convince them to engage in sex.
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