How Are Mentally Incapable, Mentally Disabled, Mentally incapacitated, or Physically Helpless Defined in Michigan CSC Laws?

Mentally IncapacitatedAs a Michigan Sex Crimes Defense Attorney, a common question we receive is "What is the definition of mentally incapable, mentally disabled, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless in Michigan's Criminal Sexual Conduct laws?" Modern Michigan Sex Crimes laws no longer use words like "rape" and "sexual assault." Rather, Sex Crimes in Michigan are generally called Criminal Sexual Conduct, or CSC for short. Michigan CSC crimes break down into four "degrees" of seriousness, from CSC 1, punishable by up to LIFE in Prison, CSC 2 and CSC 3, both punishable by up to 15 years in Prison, and CSC 4, punishable by up to 2 years in Prison. CSC 1 and 3 involve "sexual penetration," while CSC 2 and 4 involve "sexual contact" without penetration. (There are other Sex Crimes in Michigan, such as Accosting a Minor, Child Pornography, Gross Indecency, and Indecent Exposure, but they are beyond the scope of this article.) Whether an act of alleged sexual penetration or sexual contact can be classified as 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th degree depends on which of many "multiple variables" apply to the facts of each particular case. For each of the four degrees, at least one of the multiple variables uses the terms "mentally incapable, mentally disabled, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless." Some of the most common examples are cases were the alleged victim's alcohol impairment is an issue. The standard is whether the accused "knew or should have known" about these aspects of the alleged victim's conduction. If you or someone you love is facing a Michigan CSC charge where these things are alleged, you'll need to know exactly how these words are defined in the law. Here are the definitions, straight out of the Michigan Standard Criminal Jury Instructions: Mentally Incapable: means the alleged victim was "suffering from a mental disease or defect that made him/her incapable of appraising either the physical or moral nature of his / her conduct." Mentally Disabled: means the alleged victim had a "mental illness, is intellectually disabled, or has a developmental disability. 'Mental illness' is a substantial disorder of thought or mood that significantly impairs judgment, behavior, or the ability to recognize reality and deal with the ordinary demands of life. 'Intellectual disability' means significantly subaverage intellectual functioning that appeared before [age 18] and impaired two or more of his/her adaptive skills. 'Developmental disability' means an impairment of general thinking or behavior that originated before the age of 18, has continued since it started or can be expected to continue indefinitely, is a substantial burden to [the alleged victim’s] ability to function in society, and is caused by a condition requiring treatment and services similar to those required for intellectual disability." Mentally Incapacitated: means the alleged victim "was unable to understand or control what they were doing because of drugs or alcohol given to them, or because of something done to them without their consent." Physically Helpless: means the alleged victim "was unconscious, asleep, or physically unable to communicate that he/she did not want to take part in the alleged act." When sexual contact occurs with someone who you know or have reason to know is mentally incapable, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless, that constitutes Fourth Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct. If, on top of this, you are also "aided or abetted" by another person, if you cause "personal injury" to the alleged victim, if you are related to the alleged victim, or if you are in a "position of authority" over the alleged victim, the charges could be increased to Fourth Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct. The last two (related or position of authority) also include a situation where the alleged victim is mentally disabled. When sexual penetration occurs with someone who you know or have reason to know is mentally incapable, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless, that constitutes Third Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct. If, on top of this, you are also "aided or abetted" by another person, if you cause "personal injury" to the alleged victim, if you are related to the alleged victim, or if you are in a "position of authority" over the alleged victim, the charges could be increased to Fourth Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct. The last two (related or position of authority) also include a situation where the alleged victim is mentally disabled.
HERE IS THE BOTTOM-LINE: Michigan CSC laws are complex, confusing, and very serious. A vast majority of people convicted of Criminal Sexual Conduct in Michigan end up in Prison and on the public Sex Offender Registry, sometimes for LIFE. The only way to avoid these extremely serious and life-altering consequences is with a Top-Ranked Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney.
Brian J. Prain has been honored as part of the Nations Top 1-Percent by NADC, Top 100 Criminal Trial Lawyers in Michigan and Top 40 Trial Lawyers Under 40 in Michigan by The National Trial Lawyers, Top 40 Michigan Criminal Defense Lawyers Under 40 by NACDA, and one of the Premier 100 by AATA. Both Brian himself and Prain Law, PLLC have been honored by the AIOCLA with their Top 10 Award for Client Satisfaction. Brian can be seen in both Super Lawyers Magazine and HOUR DETROIT Magazine.
If you or someone you care about is facing a Michigan Criminal Sexual Conduct charge, contact The Law Office of Brian J. Prain, PLLC anytime at (248) 731-4543
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