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Is DNA Evidence Used in a Second-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct Case?

DNA Evidence & Second-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct Cases

A common question we hear is: Will there be DNA Evidence in a second-degree criminal sexual conduct case? It's an excellent question, and we address it directly in this article.

The reason this is such an excellent question is because second-degree criminal sexual conduct is an allegation of touching, rather than "sexual penetration." Michigan sex crimes laws refer to touching done for sexual purposes (or touching that could reasonably be construed as for sexual purposes) as "sexual contact."

RELATED: click here to visit our second-degree criminal sexual conduct main page.

Due to the high number of information sources we are exposed to, such as TV shows and other media, it's natural for us to expect that there will be DNA or other scientific trace evidence in CSC cases involving sexual penetration, like first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

This is because, assuming the crime is reported in a timely fashion, the alleged victim will be sent by law enforcement to a hospital or other special facility, such as "Wayne County SAFE" for a SANE examination, more commonly called a "Rape Kit," for the collection of semen, saliva, blood, hair, or other biological evidence. After that, a search warrant will likely be obtained to gather DNA swabs from the suspect for comparison.

RELATED: click here to learn more about DNA evidence basics in criminal sexual conduct cases.

The Role of DNA Evidence in Second-Degree CSC Cases

But what people really want to know is: Will DNA evidence be used against me in my second-degree criminal sexual conduct charge, where I'm accused only of touching? Believe it or not, this is a completely legitimate question for an innocent person to ask, because in many second-degree CSC cases, the accuser and the accused have some type of relationship that puts them in physical proximity to each other on a regular basis.

Consider, for example, the case of the young father embroiled in a bitter divorce with his wife. Their 10-year-old daughter has a history of troubled and dishonest behavior: Not only does she favor her mother, but she is highly vulnerable to being manipulated by her mother. Right before child custody is decided in the divorce case, the daughter suddenly alleges sexual abuse by her father. CPS does a one-sided investigation, files an abuse petition in family court, and sole custody is immediately awarded to the mother. Following suit, the police simply take the daughter to a child forensic interview center. Then , the father is charged with second-degree CSC, and after getting a search warrant, police take the daughter's blankets and other items for "DNA testing."

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that there is a significant probability that the father's DNA could be found on items in the home for reasons that are completely innocent - after all, this man lives there, and he does normal "dad" things like putting his daughter to bed, etc. DNA can come from various sources, including: Blood, semen, urine, hair, and skin cells (sometimes contained in saliva). Some of these would seem quite natural, so one might correctly ask: How does this prove a crime?Obviously, things would be different if the DNA was semen found on blankets. But even then, the CSC Attorney must look at just how evil and manipulative this soon-to-be ex-wife really is: Was the evidence planted?

Considering DNA Evidence Reliability 

There are many factors that would allow a qualified DNA expert to help a judge or jury evaluate the reliability of DNA evidence in these "Touch DNA" type cases, including:

  • How much DNA was gathered?
  • What is the source of the DNA (blood, semen, epithelial cells, etc.)?
  • Where was the DNA allegedly found? Was it found on the alleged victim's body, or on an inanimate object such as a blanket or item of clothing? Where on that item was it allegedly found, and how indicative is that of "sexual contact"?
  • How long after the alleged sexual contact was the DNA allegedly found?
  • Most importantly, what and who are we relying on for answers to the above questions? How were things documented, and how strong is the "chain of custody" for this alleged DNA evidence?

Here's the bottom-line: In our experience where the accused is charged with one of the degrees of criminal sexual conduct that allegedly involves "sexual contact" (touching) only, DNA evidence is not likely to be a part of the case. We've certainly had cases like the one above where the government has obtained a search warrant and confiscated things like blankets, clothing, toys, and other items, but even if a DNA match is found, it is often possible to neutralize it because there are so many obvious, innocent explanations.

Additionally, in second-degree CSC cases involving allegations of inappropriate sexual touching, that usually means that the alleged victim is under 13 years of age. These cases often involve the issue of "delayed disclosure," meaning that they're alleging sexual contact that supposedly occurred long ago, well beyond the timeframe in which useful DNA would be obtainable.

So, the takeaway here is that even though the government could include DNA evidence in their case, if you are charged with second-degree CSC, often there is simply no attempt to collect DNA evidence or use it in court. Michigan’s second-degree CSC charges are typically prosecuted based on the accuser's word alone.

Prain Law, PLLC is Here to Help

If you or someone you know is accused of criminal sexual conduct, it is imperative to have a highly skilled and knowledgeable Michigan attorney evaluate the case, because every case has its own specific needs; no two CSC cases are identical. Detroit attorney Brian J. Prain takes pride in fighting for the innocent, and has repeatedly demonstrated his ability to end his clients’ nightmares with repeated verdicts of NOT GUILTY of Criminal Sexual Conduct.

At Prain Law, PLLC, we specifically concentrate on defending those accused of criminal sexual conduct (CSC). Attorney Brian J. Prain, founder of Prain Law, PLLC, spends each day either in front of a jury or preparing for jury trial defending those who are falsely accused of CSC. We are prepared to help you, too.

For the best defense, contact us at (248) 731-4543.

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