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Third Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct

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Criminal sexual conduct in the third degree is an extremely serious charge in Michigan. A conviction could irreversibly change your life forever. Third degree criminal sexual conduct includes more than what we think of as "rape." In Michigan, it includes what is commonly known as "statutory rape" -- which involves sex with a person who is younger than the age of consent -- as well as the traditional definition of "rape," which involves non-consensual sex by means of "force or coercion."

After an arrest, do not speak with the police. Instead, contact a Michigan criminal sexual conduct attorney at Prain Law, LLC immediately. Aside from physical or scientific evidence, nothing can hurt you more than your own words. Police are skilled at interrogation tactics. You could be hurting yourself even when you are denying that you committed the crime.

Penalties for Third Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct in Michigan

Under Michigan law, a person convicted of criminal sexual conduct in the third degree may be sentenced to state prison for a maximum of 15 years, or more if they have previously been convicted of a felony. The maximum penalty could be increased to life in prison if the person is charged as a habitual offender. And, unless one very limited exception applies, they will also be required to publicly register as a sex offender for life, starting from the moment they are released from prison.

If you are convicted of third degree criminal sexual conduct under MCL 750.520d, you are likely going to jail or state prison. Your actual sentence will be calculated according to the Michigan Sentencing Guidelines, which factors in your criminal history and the circumstances of the current criminal charges. Under the Sentencing Guidelines, third degree criminal sexual conduct is a "Class B" crime against a person, essentially meaning that lengthy incarceration is inevitable upon conviction.

Yes, this is all very scary, but you must stay positive. Instead of focusing on how much jail or prison time you could get, it is far more beneficial to focus on aggressively fighting your charges by hiring the right defense lawyer.

What Is the Definition of Criminal Sexual Conduct in the Third Degree?

Prain Law, PLLC, established by Attorney Brian J. Prain, is a criminal defense firm which aims to successfully defend those facing charges of assault, including criminal sexual conduct in the third degree (also referred to as CSC 3, CSC Third Degree, Third Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct, Third Degree CSC, Criminal Sexual Conduct in the Third Degree, and more).

The Michigan CSC Third Degree law, MCL 750.520d, states:

"(1) A person is guilty of criminal sexual conduct in the third degree if the person engages in sexual penetration with another person and if any of the following circumstances exist:

  • (a) That other person is at least 13 years of age and under 16 years of age.
  • (b) Force or coercion is used to accomplish the sexual penetration. Force or coercion includes but is not limited to any of the circumstances listed in section 520b(1)(f)(i) to (v).
  • (c) The actor knows or has reason to know that the victim is mentally incapable, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless.
  • (d) That other person is related to the actor by blood or affinity to the third degree and the sexual penetration occurs under circumstances not otherwise prohibited by this chapter. It is an affirmative defense to a prosecution under this subdivision that the other person was in a position of authority over the defendant and used this authority to coerce the defendant to violate this subdivision. The defendant has the burden of proving this defense by a preponderance of the evidence. This subdivision does not apply if both persons are lawfully married to each other at the time of the alleged violation.
  • (e) That other person is at least 16 years of age but less than 18 years of age and a student at a public school or nonpublic school, and either of the following applies:
    • (i) The actor is a teacher, substitute teacher, or administrator of that public school, nonpublic school, school district, or intermediate school district. This subparagraph does not apply if the other person is emancipated or if both persons are lawfully married to each other at the time of the alleged violation.
    • (ii) The actor is an employee or a contractual service provider of the public school, nonpublic school, school district, or intermediate school district in which that other person is enrolled, or is a volunteer who is not a student in any public school or nonpublic school, or is an employee of this state or of a local unit of government of this state or of the United States assigned to provide any service to that public school, nonpublic school, school district, or intermediate school district, and the actor uses his or her employee, contractual, or volunteer status to gain access to, or to establish a relationship with, that other person.
  • (f) That other person is at least 16 years old but less than 26 years of age and is receiving special education services, and either of the following applies:
    • (i) The actor is a teacher, substitute teacher, administrator, employee, or contractual service provider of the public school, nonpublic school, school district, or intermediate school district from which that other person receives the special education services. This subparagraph does not apply if both persons are lawfully married to each other at the time of the alleged violation.
    • (ii) The actor is a volunteer who is not a student in any public school or nonpublic school, or is an employee of this state or of a local unit of government of this state or of the United States assigned to provide any service to that public school, nonpublic school, school district, or intermediate school district, and the actor uses his or her employee, contractual, or volunteer status to gain access to, or to establish a relationship with, that other person.
  • (g) The actor is an employee, contractual service provider, or volunteer of a child care organization, or a person licensed to operate a foster family home or a foster family group home, in which that other person is a resident, that other person is at least 16 years of age, and the sexual penetration occurs during that other person's residency. As used in this subdivision, "child care organization", "foster family home", and "foster family group home" mean those terms as defined in section 1 of 1973 PA 116, MCL 722.111.

(2) Criminal sexual conduct in the third degree is a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 15 years."

RELATED: click here for the definition of "Mentally Incapable, Mentally Disabled, Mentally Incapacitated, or Physically Helpless" in the Michigan CSC laws.

Definition of “Sexual Penetration” in Michigan Criminal Sexual Conduct Third Degree Cases

In Michigan, "Sexual Penetration" means:

1) Entry into the genital opening or anal opening by any part of the accused’s body, including their penis, finger, tongue, or some other object. Any entry, no matter how slight, is enough. It does not matter whether the sexual act was completed or whether semen was ejaculated;

2) Entry into the mouth by the accused’s penis. Any entry, no matter how slight, is enough. It does not matter whether the sexual act was completed or whether semen was ejaculated;

3) Touching of the Complainant’s genital openings or genital organs with the Defendant’s mouth or tongue.

**Even though the Third Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct laws in Michigan seem to require "Sexual Penetration," a person can still be convicted for things that really aren't "penetration."

Definition of "Force or Coercion" in Michigan Criminal Sexual Conduct, 3rd Degree cases

In Michigan, "Force or Coercion" includes (but is not limited to):

1) When the actor overcomes the victim through the actual application of physical force or physical violence.

2) When the actor coerces the victim to submit by threatening to use force or violence on the victim, and the victim believes that the actor has the present ability to execute these threats.

3) When the actor coerces the victim to submit by threatening to retaliate in the future against the victim, or any other person, and the victim believes that the actor has the ability to execute this threat. As used in this subdivision, "to retaliate" includes threats of physical punishment, kidnapping, or extortion.

4) When the actor engages in the medical treatment or examination of the victim in a manner or for purposes that are medically recognized as unethical or unacceptable.

5) When the actor, through concealment or by the element of surprise, is able to overcome the victim.

A Criminal Sexual Conduct Third Degree Conviction Requires Lifetime Registration as a Sex Offender Due to the Michigan Sex Offenders Registration Act

Third Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct in Michigan under MCL 750.520d is a Tier 3 offense. If you are convicted of 3rd Degree CSC, you are required to register for your life on the public Michigan Sex Offender Registry (click here to see the online Registry).

There is an exception for those charged after July 1, 2011, in which the victim consented and was between the ages of 13 and 16, and in which you were no more than 4 years older than the victim (part of the Michigan "Romeo and Juliet" law).

If you are convicted of CSC 3, you will sign paperwork within days during an interview with an officer of the Michigan Department of Corrections. As of that date, you are officially publicly registered as a sex offender. For the rest of your life, if you're on the Public Sex Offender Registry, any person is free to go on the Michigan State Police site and find out you are a convicted sex offender by searching either for your name specifically, or for all registered sex offenders within a certain area. As a registered sex offender, you will be prohibited from residing, working, or loitering within 1000 feet from any school property, known as a "Student Safety Zone" (with exceptions for students living with parents);

4 times per year, you must "report" or "verify." You would have to notify the proper law enforcement agency immediately if you do any of the following:

  • Change your residence or domicile;
  • Change your place of employment or quit or are fired;
  • Enroll at any College or University, or discontinue enrollment;
  • Change your name;
  • Intend to temporarily reside at any place other than your residence for more than seven days;
  • Establish any E-mail or Instant Message address or any other type of account used in internet communications or postings; or
  • Purchase or begin to regularly drive any vehicle, or if you sell, transfer, or stop driving the vehicle.

Failure to register, report, and comply with the Sex Offenders Registry Act is a serious crime itself. This is reason alone to aggressively defend a Michigan CSC 3 charge.

Required DNA, HIV/AIDS, and STD testing for Third Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC 3)

Anyone facing a Third Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct charge in Michigan will be forced to undergo sampling and testing. Your DNA will be taken as soon as you are arrested. Every single time a criminal complaint is made (anywhere in the US) where DNA evidence is taken, your DNA will already be in the database for comparison as a possible suspect. This database, the Combined DNA Index System (or "CODIS" for short), is run by the FBI. While you are being booked into custody for the CSC 3 charge, Police will take a "buccal swab," a Q-tip swiped on the inside of your cheek. It will then be sent to the Michigan State Police Forensic Crime Lab like the one in Northville, Michigan, where a technician will extract your DNA from specific "loci" on your DNA strand. When any type of biological sample is collected in any criminal investigation across the United States, it will be compared to your DNA, every time. It does not matter whether DNA evidence was collected in the actual investigation. In July 2015, the Michigan CSC law requiring DNA profiling for those arrested for crimes was expanded to include more individuals.

Click here to learn even more about Michigan's new, tougher DNA profiling law.

At the Preliminary Exam, if your Third Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct charges are bound over to the Circuit Court, the District Court will enter an Order requiring you to submit to HIV/AIDS and STD testing if there is reason to believe the alleged act involved sexual penetration or exposure to bodily fluids.

RELATED: Can DNA evidence be used in Third Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct cases?

RELATED: How can I be charged with Criminal Sexual Conduct in the Third Degree when my accuser has changed their story?

Does the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act ("HYTA") apply to Third Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct?

No, you cannot get HYTA for Criminal Sexual Conduct 3rd Degree (or Attempt or Conspiracy to commit CSC 3) in Michigan UNLESS the alleged victim is at least 13 years old and less than 16 years old. Even if you do get HYTA, you can still go to Jail or Prison.

The Michigan Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, MCL 762.11, normally allows a young person between age 17 and 24 at the time of the offense to plead guilty without having a conviction on their record. Due to the seriousness of CSC 3, paragraph (2)(d) of HYTA specifically says it does not apply unless the alleged victim is at least 13 but less than 16 years old, and there's still no guarantee you'll get HYTA. Unless you get HYTA, if you are convicted, you'll have a public conviction on your record. A Criminal Sexual Conduct 3rd Degree charge must be fought aggressively by a Detroit sex crimes attorney.

This does not mean a person charged with 3rd Degree CSC can never get HYTA. It only means if you were between the ages 17 and 24 at the time of the alleged offense, and if that one special exception doesn't apply, you'll need to plead to a lesser offense to get HYTA. Whether to allow HYTA in a particular case is entirely up to the judge if you were at least 17 but under 21 at the time of the alleged offense. If you were between 21 and 24 years old, the prosecution must also agree. Either way, whether to offer a lesser plea down from Criminal Sexual Conduct in the Third Degree to something else that allows HYTA in the first place is always completely up to the prosecution.

Perhaps the biggest advantage to getting HYTA is you would not have to register as a sex offender. If the facts of your case aren't looking good, HYTA can be a great option. Overall, the best way to deal with any Criminal Sexual Conduct charge is to go to trial and be found NOT GUILTY.

At Prain Law, PLLC, we concentrate on defending those accused of Assaultive crimes, including Third Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct under MCL 750.520d. Please don't hesitate to contact Michigan CSC Defense Attorney Brian J. Prain! Call us today at (248) 731-4543.

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