The term “rape” tends to evoke some very specific imagery in most people’s minds — but Michigan actually doesn’t have a legal definition of that word.
Instead, the term used to describe what people generally think of as rape — as well as other kinds of sexual assault — is called “criminal sexual conduct.”
How rape is charged
In most cases, unlawful sexual penetration of any kind that’s accomplished by force or coercion will be charged as a third-degree felony. That includes situations where the victim is between 13 and 15 years of age or incapacitated due to intoxication or some other reason.
If convicted, a defendant will face mandatory sex offender registration and up to 15 years in prison.
The stakes go up, however, under certain circumstances: Criminal sexual conduct can be charged as a first-degree felony when:
- The victim is under 13 years of age
- The victim is between 13-15 years of age and either related to the defendant or a part of the defendant’s household
- The victim is between 13-15 years of age and the defendant is an authority figure to the victim
- There were multiple perpetrators involved
- The victim was injured due to force or coercion
- The victim was incapacitated at the time of the incident and suffered an injury
- The action occurred in conjunction with another felony (like kidnapping)
If convicted of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree, a defendant faces the potential of life imprisonment along with a lifetime on the sex offender registry.
If you’re charged with criminal sexual conduct
Once you understand the stakes, you can understand why it’s so important to invoke your right to remain silent when dealing with the police and find an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. That’s the best way to protect your rights and your future.