Criminal Sexual Conduct - Can My Police Interrogation be Used in Court?

Criminal Sexual Conduct charges in Michigan begin with an investigation. That investigation often involves the Police attempting to get an "interview," better known as an "interrogation" or "statement" from the accused. This is because, before Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC) charges are brought, Police often want to see if they can trick you into making an incriminating statement or "confession," believing that you are somehow helping yourself.

RELATED: Should I take a Polygraph if I'm accused of Criminal Sexual Conduct in Michigan?

First of all, you should never speak to the Police if you are charged with Criminal Sexual Conduct in Michigan. If you are doubtful about what to do, the only person you should be speaking to is an experienced Michigan Criminal Sexual Conduct Defense Attorney for guidance. But the bottom-line is rather simple: most people sitting in Prison for CSC are there because of their own words. Surprisingly, very few CSC charges in Michigan are based off of DNA, Rape Kit, other scientific or other corroborating evidence - your typical CSC charge is just the accuser's word versus the accused.

It is helpful to know that in Michigan, Criminal Sexual Conduct charges are divided into four basic "degrees":
  1. First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct, MCL 750.520b (punishable by up to LIFE in Prison)
  2. Second Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct, MCL 750.520c (punishable by up to 15 years in Prison)
  3. Third Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct, MCL 750.520d (punishable by up to 15 years in Prison)
  4. Fourth Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct, MCL 750.520e (punishable by up to 2 years in Prison)

RELATED: Can I be charged with Criminal Sexual Conduct based only on hearsay?

If you give ANY kind of statement to Police, even when you deny the allegations and repeatedly state your innocence, the government can still twist any small mistake, contradiction, or even your state of nervousness (if you're lucky enough to say all the right things). And what normal, law abiding citizen wouldn't be experiencing feelings of nervousness and anxiety when they're being accused of a Sex Crime that could send them to Prison? When an accused person chooses speak to Police, even when they are innocent, most people are likely to say some things that are helpful to them and some things that are hurtful to them, even by accident or simply not choosing the best words when under pressure.

You have a Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, to say nothing, and (the part everyone forgets) to not have that silence held against you in any way. if you are accused of Criminal Sexual Conduct in Michigan, you should absolutely exercise that right. Why? Because the law is tilted against you. If you say something helpful to your case and you want to introduce it in Court at a trial to help show your innocence (say, by playing the video of your interrogation), it will be objected to by the Prosecution and will likely be thrown out of Court as "hearsay." But if you make one little mistake and the Prosecution wants to use it to make you look guilty, there is an exception to the hearsay rules and it will be allowed. Unfortunately, it's as though the rules of evidence are designed to make you lose.

But what if you did give a statement to Police in some form or another or allowed them to interrogate you? Unfortunately, most innocent accused people do so before ever considering calling a Michigan CSC Attorney because they mistakenly believe there is nothing to fear because they are innocent. Can the Police and Prosecution use your statement in Court?

Generally, the answer is "yes" under the rules set forth above. However, there are certain situations where the Defense can object to having this evidence admitted in Court (which includes audio recordings of your interrogation, video tapes of your interrogation, or - and sometimes this can be worse than anything - the Detective or Officer who interrogated you simply testifying as to what you allegedly said without any video or audio, regardless of how accurate it is).

Here are a few typical situations where an otherwise admissible statement by you to Police during the Criminal Sexual Conduct investigation can possibly be objected to and excluded from evidence at trial when the Prosecution wants to use it against you:
  • When the statement, overall, is too prejudicial (where its "probative value is substantially outweighed by its prejudicial effect")
  • Where the statement is not voluntary - only voluntary statements are admissible in evidence. A statement that is coerced, forced, or otherwise involuntary is never allowed in Court in a Criminal Sexual Conduct charge (or any criminal charge). This is a complex legal analysis and requires a hearing with testimony in Court known in Michigan as a "Walker hearing."
  • Where the Police make comments on the recording of your interrogation that vouch for the credibility of the person accusing you of CSC or other witnesses. For example, in order to coerce a statement from the accused, a Detective might say something like "I've been doing this for a long time. We're already done a thorough investigation. We already know something happened. I'm very experienced, and I'm telling you that girl is telling the truth." The Courts in Michigan have ruled that comments like this by a Police Officer or any other person are too prejudicial to be heard by a Jury. Only the Jury may judge whether a person is credible or not. In Michigan, this is called a "Musser" issue, after the case of People v. Musser. In-fact, a man in Grand Rapids was convicted of Criminal Sexual Conduct where the Jury heard evidence exactly like this. Because of this and other problems, this man's conviction was reversed, he got a new trial, and was found Not Guilty of CSC, but he had to waste years of his life in Prison first. You can click this link to hear the arguments in the Michigan Supreme Court in this case, People v. Tomasik. This is extremely sad . . .

Are you or someone you care about facing Criminal Sexual Conduct charges in Michigan? Contact Michigan CSC Defense Attorney Brian J. Prain of Prain Law, PLLC. We concentrate exclusively on defending those accused of assaultive crimes - the majority of our cases are Criminal Sexual Conduct. Sex Crimes are very specific, and hiring just a "general practitioner" or even a Criminal Defense Lawyer who doesn't regularly defend these crimes can put your freedom in jeopardy. Don't make this mistake - get a pro, not an average Joe!

Brian J. Prain has been featured in Super Lawyers Magazine, and has been named one of the 21 Best Criminal Defense Lawyers in Detroit by Experitise.com, one of D Business Magazine's Top Lawyers, 2019, and one of Michigan's best Criminal Defense Attorneys by both the National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys and The National Trial Lawyers.

Contact Prain Law, PLLC any time at (248) 731-4543 or via email using our Contact Form.
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