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Fourth-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct

Fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct in Michigan is a misdemeanor offense that involves unwanted sexual touching. In other states, it might be known as indecent liberties. The offense typically involves touching someone for sexual purposes who is a minor, someone with a mental or physical disability, a close relative, or through the use of a relationship such as teacher and student or mental health provider and patient.

A conviction for fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct is a serious misdemeanor crime. The possible penalties and consequences for a conviction include:

  • Up to 2 years in prison
  • Up to $500 in fines
  • A permanent criminal record as a sex offender that can affect your ability to get or keep a job
  • Restrictions on where you may be permitted to live or work because of your status as a sex offender
  • Requirement to register as a sex offender and have your name, address, photo, and description of your offense available to the public
  • Possible loss or denial of a license to work as a teacher, lawyer, doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or other licensed profession
  • Possible effects on your custody of your children
  • Possible effects on your immigration status, including loss or denial of a visa or green card, denial of citizenship, or deportation

Any kind of criminal sex offense charge is a legal matter that requires careful attention because of the potential impacts on your life. An experienced Michigan criminal defense lawyer can explain what to expect from the court process and help you make informed decisions about how to handle your charge. If you decide to fight the charge, a sex crimes defense lawyer can evaluate the facts and evidence in your case and build a defense strategy designed to get you the best possible outcome.

What is Fourth-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct?

You may be charged with fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct in Michigan if you are suspected of:

  • Engaging in sexual contact with a teenager between ages 13 and 16, when you were at least 5 years older than the other person
  • Using force or coercion to sexually contact another person, which can include the use of physical force or violence; threat of force, violence, or retaliation when the alleged victim believes you can follow through on the threat; medical treatment or examination for unethical or unacceptable purposes; or through concealment or surprise
  • Engaging in sexual contact with someone who you were known to be mentally or physically disabled
  • Engaging in sexual contact with someone related to you to the third degree unless you are married; however, it may be a defense if the person had a position of authority over you and coerced the sexual contact
  • Engaging in sexual contact with a client or patient who was not your spouse if you are a mental health professional and less than 2 years has passed since you were treating the alleged victim
  • Engaging in sexual contact with a student ages 16 to 18 when you were a teacher, substitute teacher, or school administrator unless the student was emancipated or was your spouse
  • Engaging in sexual contact with a student ages 16 to 18 when you were a school district employee, contractor, or volunteer and you used your position to establish a relationship with the student
  • Engaging in sexual contact with a special needs student ages 16 to 26 when you were a teacher, substitute teacher, school administrator, school district employee, or contractor unless the student was your spouse
  • Engaging in sexual contact with a special needs student ages 16 to 26 when you were a volunteer or government service provider and used your position to establish a relationship with the student
  • Engaging in sexual contact with a resident of a foster family home or group home who was at least 16, and you were the employee, service provider, or volunteer in the home or facility while the teen was a resident

In Michigan, fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct is a misdemeanor. The possible statutory punishment for a conviction includes:

  • Up to 2 years in prison
  • A fine of up to $500

However, a judge may decide that another penalty is appropriate. A recent ruling by the Michigan Supreme Court means that judges are not limited to penalties written into statutes, but instead can hand down a sentence that is “reasonable” for the crime committed. To find out how that might affect your case, talk to a Michigan criminal defense lawyer today.

Defending Your Criminal Sexual Conduct Charge

A criminal sexual conduct charge can be fraught with emotions and can come down to your word versus the word of the alleged victim. Even an accusation that you committed a sex crime can stain your life and affect your job and your relationships family members, friends, or co-workers. You may feel like even being charged with a sex offense means your situation is hopeless and that no one will believe your side of the story. However, an experienced Michigan sex crimes defense lawyer can help.

A good criminal defense attorney will look at all sides of the story of your charge — and make sure that your side is presented accurately to a prosecutor, judge, or jury. Your defense lawyer should work aggressively to make sure that your side is heard and that your rights are protected and can do that as early in the process as when police interview you about the criminal sexual conduct allegation.

Because sex crime allegations often involve nuances and competing versions of events, there likely will be holes or inconsistencies in the version of events laid out by prosecutors. A good Michigan criminal defense attorney will spot those inconsistencies and know how to present the facts and evidence that support your story — and your innocence. With a lawyer’s help, you may be able to get your charge dismissed, get acquitted by a jury, or have your charge or penalties reduced to lessen the impact on your life.

Charged with a sex crime? Contact us today.

Your initial consultation will always be free and confidential. Call today or fill out the form below and we will help you.

Attorney Maurice Davis