Written by attorney Daniel P. Hilf

Criminal Sexual Conduct 3rd Degree

Criminal Sexual Conduct in the Third Degree (MCL 750.520d), also known as CSC 3rd Degree, is a very serious charge in Michigan. Criminal Sexual Conduct in the Third Degree always involves some form of rape (sexual penetration). The penalties for3rd Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct, upon conviction, are severe:

1) CSC 3rd Degree carries a maximum sentence of up to 15 years in prison. The minimum prison sentence will be lengthy due to quickly escalating sentencing guidelines which the Court will follow in almost all cases. If the Defendant has a prior felony record, the maximum penalty and sentence guidelines can increase as a habitual offender;

2) Under Michigan law, a mandatory prison sentence must be imposed upon conviction from Criminal Sexual Conduct 3rd Degree. The Court is not allowed to avoid a prison sentence with a probationary sentence for Third Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct;

3) CSC 3rd Degree is classified under Michigan Sex Offender Registration as a Tier I offense, unless the sentencing Judge makes a determination that the victim consented, the age of the victim was at least 13 years old but less than 16 years old, and the Defendant is not more than 4 years older than the victim.

Hence, a conviction for CSC 3rd Degree is a life changing event. Experienced criminal legal representation is a necessity for anyone accused of this crime. The attorneys at Hilf & Hilf, PLC have extensive criminal trial experience and have previously successfully defended Criminal Sexual Conduct allegations including Criminal Sexual Conduct in the Third Degree.

The offense of Criminal Sexual Conduct in the Third Degree (MCL 750.520d) involves some form of sexual penetration combined with any one of the following circumstances:

1) The alleged victim is at least 13 years old but less than 16 years old;

2) The Defendant used force or coercion to commit the alleged sexual penetration;

3) The Defendant knew or had reason to know that the alleged victim was mentally unable to consent (due to age, mental retardation, etc.), mentally incapacitated (due to intoxication, date rape drug, etc), or physically helpless (in a coma, quadriplegic, etc.) at the time of the alleged sexual penetration.

4) The alleged victim was related to the Defendant by blood or affinity to the third degree and the sexual penetration occurred under circumstances not otherwise prohibited by the criminal sexual conduct statutes.

An aider and abettor to Third Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct can be found guilty for this crime. Mere presence alone does not constitute aiding and abetting. However, any minimal assistance in the crime, even assistance in which the aider and abettor does not engage in any sexual act, can lead to the same charge as the main participant.

It is not uncommon for an individual to be falsely accused of Criminal Sexual Conduct in the Third Degree. Many common motivators to lie about criminal sexual conduct or rape include a mental disorder, the hope to gain sympathy, bias or hatred, financial gain, and/or to not lose face in one’s community. Any false allegation for Criminal Sexual Conduct 3rd Degree must be defended with the utmost vigilance. It is an affirmative defense to CSC 3rd Degree that the alleged victim was in a position of authority over the Defendant and used this authority to coerce the Defendant to commit the alleged sexual penetration. Other defense to3rd Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct include, but are not limited to, consent (as long as the alleged victim is 16 years or older, and other circumstances don’t exist to make this Defense not viable), reasonable doubt, the alleged victim is not credible, alibi, statute of limitations, and insanity.

Anyone accused and/or charged with Third Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct should first exercise their right to remain silent and second hire a skilled criminal defense lawyer, such as the lawyers at Hilf & Hilf, PLC, as soon as possible after the accusation for Criminal Sexual Conduct in the Third Degree is made for the following reasons:

  1. A police officer or a detective that attempts to question you is more often than not looking to build a case, and not looking at the case with an open mind or in a balanced manner – even if he or she tells you otherwise. Statements taken by police officers or detectives are often taken out of context, and can and will be used against you in Court. The police officer or detective will often try to scare you into making a statement by telling you that if you don’t say anything they won’t have anything to take to the prosecutor on your behalf. Your statement to law enforcement (or to anybody) in this context, by and large, will not help you in any way. Any experienced criminal defense attorney will tell you to remain silent, and consult with your lawyer before you take any steps or make any statements;

  2. You have a better chance of receiving a reasonable bail or bond through effective legal representation. Bond for this type of allegation, based upon the nature of the offense and the possible sentence, are usually high;

  3. The experienced criminal defense lawyer can prepare the case for preliminary examination to work for possible dismissal, lay the groundwork for possible motions, develop testimony to impeach witnesses, and develop defenses for trial;

  4. In some instances passing a polygraph examination (lie detector test) will lead to a dismissal or reduction in charges. Your lawyer can make arrangements for a polygraph examination to occur. Be mindful that there are a lot of risks with taking a polygraph test, and you should never agree to take a polygraph test without first consulting with an experienced criminal defense lawyer;

  5. You need an experienced criminal defense attorney to prepare and conduct the trial to give you the best chance of winning. The Prosecution needs to see that your attorney is not going to surrender, and will fight the case vigorously on your behalf;

  6. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can file motions and/or conducting evidentiary hearings, when appropriate, in order to possibly: gain dismissal of charges; exclude improperly obtained statements from the Defendant; suppress evidence that was illegally seized; and/or challenge the ability of the prosecutor to introduce prior act testimony at trial. The ability to control the evidence introduced at trial can greatly improve the chances of ultimately gaining acquittal;

  7. If you plan to plead guilty to a Criminal Sexual Conduct offense, the experienced criminal defense lawyer can work to achieve the best result through possible plea bargains, possible Cobbs or sentencing agreements, persuasive lawyering, and optimal scoring of the Michigan Sentence Guidelines. The experienced criminal defense lawyer can provide advice as to whether entering a plea of guilty to Criminal Sexual Conduct or a reduced charge is in your best interest. Every case is different, and whether or not the factors in this paragraph apply depends upon the prior criminal history, the facts of the allegation, the position of Prosecutor's office, and the Judge assigned to the case.

Sometimes in life you only have one opportunity to obtain the right result.

Hiring the right criminal defense lawyer may be one of the most important decisions you make for yourself and your family. There are many lawyers who claim to do more than what they are able - just as there are many surgeons in the world that are no better than butchers. Do not settle for a legal hack job. Practicing law is a skill that develops over time with experience, commitment, dedication, and God given talent. There are no amateur attorneys at Hilf & Hilf, PLC– only experienced professionals that are guided by the humanity in the individuals we serve, and the drive not to settle for what is easy over what is right.

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