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Third-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct

Statutory rape is a complicated crime. The person the state defines as a victim may not feel like one. In fact, the alleged victim might have willingly engaged in a relationship, including a sexual relationship, with you, but the state defines your relationship as a crime because of who the victim is, not because he or she felt violated — and you may face a felony charge because you fell in love at age 17 with someone who was 15, or had a relationship with someone you thought was old enough to consent. It’s not uncommon for teens who are minors themselves to be charged with statutory rape for having sex with a boyfriend or girlfriend who is under 16, or for people to be charged when they genuinely didn’t know their partner was under the age of consent.

It’s also not unusual for volatile teenagers to make false accusations of statutory rape penalize adults who exercise authority over them, such as teachers or foster parents, or when a teenager develops a crush on an older person and feels rejected because the adult didn’t think a relationship was appropriate. You may find yourself facing a felony charge because you said “no” to a teenager who doesn’t yet understand boundaries.

A conviction for third-degree criminal sexual conduct in Michigan can have serious, life-altering consequences that include:

  • A prison sentence of up to 15 years
  • A permanent felony record as a sex offender
  • Expensive criminal fines and court costs
  • Requirement to register as a sex offender and have your photo, name, address, and information about your offense listed in the public database
  • You’ll be restricted from living or working in certain places
  • You may be denied employment because of your criminal record, or lose your existing job
  • You may not be able to get a license to practice a profession such as teaching, law, nursing, medicine, or pharmacy, or you may lose your existing license
  • Your custody of your children may be affected
  • Your immigration status may be affected if you’re not a U.S. citizen, and you could be deported to your native country

If you’ve been charged with statutory rape, known in Michigan as third-degree criminal sexual conduct, it’s important to talk to a Michigan sex crimes lawyer who will listen to your side of the story and communicate it to the police, prosecutors, a judge, or a jury.

What is Third-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct?

Third-degree criminal sexual conduct involves sexual activity with minors over age 13 or people with disabilities. The offense might be known by another name as statutory rape. You may be charged in Michigan with third-degree criminal sexual conduct under any of the following circumstances:

  • Sexual penetration of a minor age 13 to 16
  • Sexual penetration using force or coercion
  • Sexual penetration of someone you know has a mental or physical disability
  • Sexual penetration of someone related to you to the fourth degree and who was not your spouse; however, it’s a defense that the other person held a position of power and coerced you
  • Sexual penetration of a student age 16 to 18 when you were a teacher, substitute teacher, or administrator for the school or school district, unless the student was emancipated or was your spouse
  • Sexual penetration of a student age 16 to 18 when you were an employee, contractor, or volunteer for the school or school district and used your position to obtain sex or to establish a relationship with the student
  • Sexual penetration of a special education student age 16 to 26 when you were a teacher, substitute teacher, or administrator for the school or school district unless the student was your spouse
  • Sexual penetration of a special education student age 16 to 26 when you were an employee, contractor, volunteer, or social worker providing services to the student and used your position to obtain sex or establish a relationship with the student
  • Sexual penetration of a minor at least 16 years old who is in foster care or a group home, and you were an employee, contractor, volunteer, or person licensed to operate the foster family home or group home while the minor was a resident

Penalties for Conviction

Third-degree criminal sexual conduct is a felony offense in Michigan. If you are convicted, you may receive a prison sentence of up to 15 years. You may be sentenced to a mandatory minimum of 5 years in prison if you have a previous conviction for a first degree, second degree, or third degree criminal sexual conduct charge in Michigan, or a conviction in another state for rape, carnal knowledge, indecent liberties, gross indecency, or an attempt to commit one of those offenses.

Your sentence also may depend on how a judge views the evidence in your case. The Michigan Supreme Court ruled recently that judges have the discretion to decide "reasonable" sentences for criminal convictions, and should not be restricted by the sentencing ranges that the Legislature writes into state law. An experienced Michigan criminal defense lawyer can explain how this affects the potential outcome of your charge.

Defending Your Third-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct Charge

Statutory rape can be a tricky charge because you can still be charged even if the other person consented and you had no intent to commit a sex crime. However, your situation may not be without hope, and a skilled Michigan criminal defense lawyer may be able to help.

If your case is pending, a Michigan sex crimes attorney can help you navigate the system and work to secure the best possible result in your case. It may be possible to get your charge dismissed, to convince a jury to acquit you or to convince a judge that you should be shown leniency.

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