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Sex Crime Charges in Chelsea, Michigan

By Daniel T. Geherin

If you’re looking at a sex crime charge, it’s a serious matter that requires your focused attention. A conviction can derail the life you have built for yourself and the plans you've made for your future. One of the most important steps anyone in your difficult situation can take is to consult with an experienced Chelsea sex crimes defense attorney with experience successfully obtaining favorable outcomes in sex crime cases.

The Degree of the Charge

In Michigan, sexual offenses are ranked by degree. They range from first-degree to fourth- degree, and first-degree charges are the most serious. Having any sex crime conviction on your record is a very serious matter, and bringing your strongest defense is always in your best interest.  

Fourth-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct

Fourth-degree CSC relates to sexual touching, and one of the following elements must apply:

●      Force or coercion was used.

●      The accused was in a position of authority or power over the victim.

●      The victim was incapacitated in some way at the time.

Fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct is a misdemeanor, but includes up to two years behind bars and fines of up to $500. There is also the potential of being included on the sex offender registry for up to 25 years.

Third-degree criminal Sexual Conduct

A common example of a third-degree criminal sexual conduct charge is statutory rape, which means intercourse with a consenting partner who is too young to consent legally. Other examples include having sex with someone who can’t consent due to impairment or incapacitation or using force to gain consent. 

The penalties for a third-degree criminal sexual conduct charge, which is a felony, include a prison sentence of up to 15 years and inclusion on the sex offender registry for life. 

Second-degree criminal Sexual Conduct

A charge of second-degree criminal sexual conduct addresses sexual contact rather than penetration, such as touching the victim’s genitals or other private parts, which can include the thigh area. For a second-degree criminal sexual conduct charge to stick, one of the following elements must be involved:

●      The victim hadn’t reached the age of 13 at the time.

●      The accused had authority over the victim at the time.

●      The accused is one of the victim’s family members.

The fines and penalties associated with a second-degree criminal sexual conduct charge include up to 15 years in prison and up to 25 years on the sex offender registry.

First-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct

First-degree criminal sexual conduct involves penetration along with one of the following aggravating factors:

●      The victim hadn’t yet reached the age of 13.

●      The accused engaged in force or coercion to obtain submission.

●      The accused was in a position of authority or power over the victim at the time of the crime.

●      The accused was armed at the time of the crime. 

A conviction at this level carries a prison sentence that can top out at life behind bars. If the victim was younger than 13 at the time the crime was committed, the minimum sentence requirement is 25 years in prison. In addition, offenders are required to be on the sex offender registry.

It’s also important to note that, in Michigan, there’s no statute of limitations for first-degree criminal sexual conduct charges. This means that the passage of time will not protect you from charges being levied. 

Sexual Offenses in Michigan

The Michigan Penal Code determines charges and penalties related to sex crimes in the state. The charges include sexual misconduct involving either penetration or sexual contact, and there are several basic categories. 


Criminal charges of rape are classified as sexual conduct, and the charge references having sexual intercourse with someone who doesn’t give their consent. Because the age of consent in Michigan is 16 – but is raised to 18 when the other person involved is in a position of authority over the victim – having sex with someone who is 15 or younger is a criminal act. This is true even when the act is consensual. When the child is under the age of 13, the charge is that much more serious.

It's important to note that Michigan does have what are known as Romeo and Juliet provisions that can help keep people in specific situations off the state's sex offender registry. These provisions relate to one party being no more than four years older than the other at the time that the sexual contact takes place. Consensual sex between an 18-year-old and a 15-year-old is treated very differently than consensual sex between someone who is 20 years old and someone who is 15 years old. 

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault or sexual abuse is a form of criminal sexual conduct that involves forcing or pressuring someone else into some form of sexual contact that they don’t consent to. The charge can apply to either unwanted touching of one’s private areas or penetration. The charge can apply when the victim doesn’t have the capacity to provide consent, such as the following situations:

●      When they are asleep

●      When they are unconscious 

●      When they are impaired by alcohol or drugs or are otherwise incapacitated

●      When they are physically or mentally helpless.

Public Indecency

It’s against the law in Michigan to expose your own private body parts or those of someone else in public. Common forms of indecent exposure relate to urinating in public or flashing others. 

The charge of gross indecency refers to publicly engaging in sex or having sex in a location where others may be exposed to the activity. 


Prostitution or solicitation refers to seeking, engaging in, consenting to, or offering sexual acts for money. 

Child Pornography 

Any photograph, video, or moving picture that depicts a child who is under the age of 18 – or that appears to depict a child who is under the age of 18 – engaging in a sexual act is considered child pornography, which is a form of child sexual exploitation in Michigan. It’s important to recognize that your First Amendment rights don’t extend to child pornography.   

Child Molestation

The charge of child molestation relates to engaging in sexual contact with a child. The charge can be based on exposing a child to pornography or taking sexually provocative pictures of them. Turn to a trusted Michigan criminal defense lawyer for the help you need. 

Contact Us Today to Speak to a Chelsea Sex Crimes Defense Attorney

If you’re looking for a specialized criminal justice law firm in and around Ann Arbor, look no further than Geherin Law Group. Daniel T. Geherin and his staff are pleased to offer personalized and dedicated service to their clients. Dan was born and raised in Washtenaw County and has practiced criminal defense here for over 25 years. Without question, Dan and his team know the judges and prosecutors in Washtenaw County and have the expertise necessary to help you get your life back on track. To prove our dedication to criminal defense in Ann Arbor, GLG posts successful results on our website. If you need help, call us at (734) 263-2780 or email us at