Assault with Intent
An accusation of assault is a stressful and serious legal matter. But add the element of a sexual motivation, and an assault accusation can become catastrophic. Michigan treats allegations of the offense known as assault with intent to commit criminal sexual conduct very seriously. The offense that many people would describe as “sexual assault” is a felony in Michigan that can have life-altering effects if you’re convicted.
If you’re convicted of assault with intent to commit criminal sexual conduct, you may face penalties and other consequences that include:
- Serving years in prison
- Being ordered to pay expensive fines and court fees
- A permanent criminal record as a felon
- Requirement to register as a sex offender
- Restrictions on where you can live or work because of your sex offender status
- Trouble finding or keeping a job because of your record
- Trouble getting approved for rental housing
- If you have a professional license to work as a teacher, nurse, doctor, lawyer, pharmacist, or other state-licensed professional, your license may be suspended or revoked
- If you are not an American citizen, you may lose your immigration visa or green card, have your citizenship application denied, or be deported
It’s never too early to talk to a lawyer when you’re being investigated or have been arrested for a sexual assault charge. The evidence and testimony in these types of cases can be complicated and conflicting. These cases can ruin your reputation, destroy relationships, and tear families apart.
An experienced Michigan sex crimes lawyer can be your advocate from the very beginning of the process and help get to the truth of your situation. A lawyer with a thorough knowledge of sex crimes cases can protect your rights when police want to question you or conduct searches of your person or property.
A good lawyer may be able to get your case resolved without your ever going to court. If your sexual assault charge does go to court, a lawyer can be a strong voice telling your side of the story, and may be able to get your case dismissed or your charge and penalties reduced.
Penalties for a Michigan Sexual Assault Conviction
When you are suspected of assaulting another person with the intention of committing criminal sexual conduct, you can be charged with a felony in Michigan. Criminal sexual conduct includes a number of actions including:
- Sexual intercourse
- Oral sex
- Any other intrusion of someone’s body
- Groping or touching someone in a sexual manner
These actions become criminal conduct when they are committed without the other person’s consent; through the use of force, threats, intimidation, or coercion; or when the other person lacks the legal capacity to consent, such as a minor or a person with a mental disability.
Under Section 750.520g of the Michigan Penal Code, the penalties for assault with intent to commit criminal sexual conduct differ based on whether or not the offense involved an intent to sexually penetrate the other person. In other words, an assault with the intent to commit rape is penalized more severely than an assault with the intent to commit unwanted sexual touching. However, both are punished harshly in Michigan if you’re convicted.
- Assault with Intent to Penetrate — A conviction for this form of sexual assault is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
- Assault with Intent to Commit 2nd Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct — A conviction for this form of sexual assault is a felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison. In a nutshell, 2nd degree criminal sexual conduct involves unwanted sexual touching, often involving coercion, or a victim who is a minor, a person with a disability, or someone over whom you exercise some form of power, such as a teacher and a student.
It’s also important to note a recent Michigan Supreme Court decision that allows a judge to decide what punishment is “reasonable” for an individual conviction. The court ruled that judges, and not the Legislature, are the ones who should decide criminal sentences. That means that a sentence may be different than what is set by statute if the judge believes another sentence is “reasonable” based on the facts and circumstances. A skilled Michigan criminal defense lawyer can explain how this might affect your case.
Defending Your Michigan Sexual Assault Charge
You can’t underestimate the value that an experienced Michigan sex crime lawyer can provide when you’re being investigated or have been charged with assault with intent to commit criminal sexual conduct. Sexual assault cases are rarely cut-and-dried. Instead, they’re full of ambiguity, contradictory evidence and testimony, and legal complexity.
A good lawyer can look at the circumstances of your case, the argument the prosecutor is presenting, and craft a strong defense strategy designed to get your case dismissed or your charge reduced. A skilled criminal defense attorney with experience handling Michigan sex crimes cases will know how best to tell your side of the story through a process in which the police and prosecutors have assumed that your guilt. With the help of a strong defense attorney, you may be able to leave the stress and stigma of a sexual assault charge behind you and move on with your life.