Criminal Sexual Conduct Laws - Definition of Consent in Michigan

Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC for short) is the name given to the broad category of Michigan Sex Crimes. These days, we don't typically hear the word "Rape" in connection with criminal charges anymore. At common law, "Rape" was usually defined as "sex by force and without consent," or "the carnal knowledge of a woman forcibly and against her will." Nowadays, all sex-related crimes are all under the umbrella of "Criminal Sexual Conduct, which is divided up into degrees which each have many subcategories. One or more of these subcategories, or "multiple variables" includes what used to be referred to as "Rape" - sex by force and without consent.

Michigan Criminal Sexual Conduct charges come in four basic "degrees" along with some other related Sex Crimes, such as:

But even though the wording is all different these days, the basic idea of sex by "force or coercion" and without consent still survives and is embodied in the modern Michigan CSC laws. For example, if you are accused of what used to be called "Rape" (having sex with someone by force or coercion), you can raise the defense of consent. At a CSC trial, when you raise the defense of consent, meaning your'e essentially admitting to the sex (such as in a case involving a Rape Kit and DNA evidence as proof), the Jury will have to decide whether the alleged victim was actually forced or coerced into the sex, or whether there was consent. In other words, evidence showing consent tends to negate the Prosecutor's claim that force or coercion was used to accomplish sexual penetration or sexual contact.

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

RELATED: Click here for the most helpful information on the web about the Criminal Sexual Conduct Court Process in Michigan.

In a Michigan CSC case whee consent is at issue, the Judge will instruct the Jury on the law of consent by reading them a Jury Instruction. We can look at that Jury Instruction to understand how consent is defined under Michigan law:

"There has been evidence in this case about the defense of consent. A person consents to a sexual act by agreeing to it freely and willingly, without being forced or coerced.

It is not necessary to show that the alleged victim resisted the defendant to prove that this crime was committed. Nor is it necessary to show that the alleged victim did anything to lessen the danger to himself/herself.

In deciding whether or not the alleged victim consented to the act, you should consider all of the evidence. It may help you to think about the following questions:

  • Was the alleged victim free to leave and not take part in the sexual act?
  • Did the defendant threaten the alleged victim with present or future injury?
  • Did the defendant use force, violence, or coercion?
  • Did the defendant display a weapon?
  • [Any other relevant circumstances]

If you find that the evidence raises a reasonable doubt as to whether the alleged victim consented to the act freely and willingly, then you must find the defendant not guilty."

There is much more to the defense of consent to Criminal Sexual Conduct in Michigan. But what you have just read above is the law exactly as it would be read to the Jury at a CSC trial. By looking at the above Jury Instruction and analyzing it carefully, you can begin to see whether or not you may be able to present evidence of consent as a defense to Criminal Sexual Conduct in your case.

RELATED: Will my Criminal Sexual Conduct charge be dismissed if the alleged victim doesn't show up?

If you or someone you care about is facing Criminal Sexual Conduct charges in Michigan, reach out to Michigan CSC Defense Attorney Brian J. Prain of Prain Law, PLLC.

Brian J. Prain was named in Super Lawyers Magazine, recognized as one of the 21 Best Criminal Defense Lawyers in Detroit by Experitise.com, a D Business Magazine's Top Lawyers, 2019, and as one of Michigan's top Criminal Defense Attorneys by National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys and The National Trial Lawyers.

Contact Prain Law, PLLC at (248) 731-4543 or electronically using our Contact Form.
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