Sex Crimes in Michigan

Sex Crimes in Michigan


A “sex crime” is, by definition, a crime that the law has decided is sexual in nature or intent. As a result, there are a wide variety of sex crimes, each with a different definition under Michigan law. Each results in different punishments if the defendant is convicted. Due to the fact that all of these crimes are considered to be sexual offenses, however, there are certain similarities in how they are handled.


One of these similarities is that, if convicted, a person will likely serve at least some time in jail or prison. In addition, after release from confinement, the offender will be required to register as a sex offender on Michigan’s public Sex Offender Registry.


Sex crimes are considered to be some of the worst crimes that a person can commit. For that reason, it is so critical to have a strong, experienced defense attorney on your side, fighting to protect you. Lots of men are in Michigan prisons today because of false accusations.


The following is a list of many of the most common types of sex crimes that are covered by the Michigan criminal code. We’ve also included brief descriptions of what each crime involves and what penalties accompany it. There are also links to further information, for those who would like to know more. You should not think that this information is complete.


Everything is subject to change and interpretation by the courts. Laws change, judge’s change and interpretations change. For that reason, you should speak with an attorney with expertise in fighting CSC, sex assault and rape charges here in Michigan.


1st Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct

Under Michigan law, First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct (also called CSC first)  is considered to be the most serious of the four degrees of CSC. 1st Degree CSC involves two factors that must both be proven in order for this charge to be made. The first factor is that there must have been sexual penetration of the alleged victim.


The second factor, however, can be any one of a number of specific items detailed in our criminal law. These include any one of the following: either the victim was under 13 at the time,  the defendant was armed with a weapon, force or coercion was used to get the victim to submit, or the perpetrator was in a position of authority over the victim.


1st Degree CSC is punishable by up to life in prison or any term of years, along with the requirement that the convicted register as a sex offender for life. Additionally, Michigan has a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years for this offense when the victim is under the age of 13. For more information, please read this.


2nd Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct

While still considered to be a serious crime, Second Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC 2nd) is less severe than 1st Degree CSC. This is because it doesn’t involve penetration, but rather sexual contact with the victim.


Sexual contact in this case is defines as intimate touching of the genital area or private parts. The “private parts” can be even the thigh. 


Aside from the allegations of sexual touching, 2nd Degree CSC involves the victim being under the age of 13, a family member of the accused, or someone who was under the authority of the defendant at the time that the alleged contact occurred.


2nd Degree CSC is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. After their release from prison, a convicted person would be required by law to register as a sex offender for 25 years. For more information, please read this.


3rd Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct

Third Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC 3rd) refers to sexual penetration of the alleged victim. However, in this scenario, the victim is either under the age of consent which is age 16 in Michigan, is unable to consent due to being mentally incapacitated, or the accused is alleged to have used force to achieve the sexual penetration.


The most common form of 3rd degree CSC that we encounter, is what is referred to as “statutory rape.” This tends to happen when the sex was consensual, but the people involved were teenagers, one of whom was below the age of consent.


3rd Degree CSC is punishable by up to 15 years in prison, and the requirement that upon release, the convicted register with the state for life as a sex offender.  For more information, please read this.


4th Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct

Fourth Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC 4th) involves no penetration but, like 2nd Degree CSC, refers instead to sexual touching of an intimate nature.


In this case, the sexual contact happens in a situation where the perpetrator has power or authority over the alleged victim, or they use force or coercion in order to achieve the sexual contact, or the victim is in any way mentally incapacitated at the time.


4th Degree CSC is punishable by up to two years in prison, and a possible fine of $500. Additionally, the convicted person could be required to register as a sex offender for any number of years up to life.  For more information, please read this.



Rape refers to forcing someone else to participate in sexual activities, usually involving sexual penetration, against their will. In Michigan, rape is not charged as a separate crime, but rather, is usually charged as 1st or 3rd Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct. Date rape, which is also sometimes discussed as if it were a separate crime, is charged as 1st or 3rd Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct. For more information, please read this.



Prostitution, which is defined as the exchange of money for sex or sexual activities, is illegal in the state of Michigan. There are actually a number of different crimes relating to prostitution that are charged differently, and have different penalties.


For example, anyone over the age of 16 caught selling themselves for sex can be charged with a misdemeanor, while anyone caught hiring the services of a prostitute might be facing a felony.


Other examples of prostitution-related crimes include Solicitation, Maintaining a house of prostitution, Receiving earnings from a prostitute, Forcing one’s own wife into prostitution, and Transporting a female for prostitution. For more information, please read this.


In Michigan, not only is prostitution a crime, but so is “pimping” someone else for the purposes of prostitution. This is referred to as Pandering, and is a very serious crime. Anyone convicted of pandering faces the possibility of 20 years in prison and required registration on the sex offender registry for 25 years. For more information, please read this.


Internet Sex Crimes

Internet Sex Crimes refers to any form of criminal activity of a sexual nature that involves the use of the internet. Commonly, this refers to child pornography, the coercion of minors, and child exploitation. Depending on the nature of the crime, and whether it is being prosecuted on a state or federal level, the penalties can vary widely. For more information, please read this.


Child Pornography

Child Pornography crimes include a number of different offenses, all pertaining to the possession, production and sale of pornographic materials involving children.


However, while each crime is prosecuted differently, they are all very serious and, if convicted, can have life-altering consequences.  Both the state of Michigan as well as the federal government aggressively prosecute kiddie porn case. Penalties are very harsh upon conviction.


Possession of child sexually abusive material (sometimes called CSAM), production of child sexually abusive material, and distribution of child sexually abusive material, also known as child pornography or “kiddie porn”, are all major felonies in Michigan and are all punishable by substantial prison sentences and mandatory registration on the state’s public sex offender registry. For more information, please read this.


Child Sexual Abuse

Under state law, Child Sexual Abuse refers to all forms of sexual abuse of children. This could include molestation, sexual assault, rape or any other form of sexual abuse of an underaged minor.


Because of the way that Michigan law is set up, any crimes involving sexual contact, whether they involve touching or penetration, will be charged as one of the four degrees of CSC. For more information on the different degrees of criminal sexual conduct in Michigan, please read this.


Indecent Exposure

Indecent Exposure is the crime of intentionally exposing or displaying one’s genitals or private parts in public, usually to unsuspecting people. Usually, this is done in order to incite a reaction in others, or for personal sexual gratification.


It is important to note that this does not include a woman baring her breasts in public for the purpose of nursing a baby, otherwise breastfeeding mothers would face indecent exposure charges. For more information, read this.


Assault with Intent

Assault with intent actually refers to two different crimes under Michigan law. The first is Assault with Intent to Commit Sexual Penetration, which refers to assaulting someone with the intention of having forced sexual intercourse with them.


Another name for this crime is “attempted rape”. It is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and required registration on the sex offender registry. For more information, please read this.


The second is Assault with Intent to Commit Sexual Conduct involving Contact, which is a five year felony under Michigan law. This refers to the attempt to touch someone in a sexual way without their consent. Both of these laws are relatively obscure, and are not used often by the prosecutor. For more information, please read this.


Sex Offender Registry

The Michigan Sex Offender Registry is an online database maintained by the Michigan State Police.


It is a regularly updated list of all sex offenders across the state of Michigan who have been required by the our law and/or a court to register as sex offenders.


Sex offenders are ranked on the registry in tiers according to the severity of the crime they were convicted of committing. The length of time that a person will be required to remain on the list is also determined by the specific crime they were convicted of. For more information, please read this.


Misdemeanor Sex Crimes

Misdemeanor Sex Crimes refers to criminal sexual activities that are prosecuted as misdemeanors, not felonies. This category includes indecent exposure, gross indecency and lewd conduct, all of which are punishable by jail time and fines.


However, it is important to note that, while they may seem like insignificant crimes when compared to much more serious ones like rape and child sex abuse, they may still require that a convicted person register as a sex offender. For more information, please read this.


Federal Sex Crimes

Federal Sex Crimes are crimes that are prosecuted at a federal level, instead of being handled in the state courts. Rather than a county prosecutor of the Michigan Attorney General, federal crimes are prosecuted by the United States Attorney.


In many instances, child pornography cases and internet sex crime cases are turned over to the federal authorities by local police departments. This is usually because federal penalties are often stricter, which means that the defendant could spend longer behind bars if convicted. For more information, please read this.


Juvenile Sex Crimes

Juvenile Sex Offenses refers to any sexual offenses committed by juveniles, that is to say, young people who are not legally viewed as having reached adulthood yet. This often includes teenage couples who engage in consensual sexual relations, but one of them is under the age of 16.


This is often called statutory rape, but in Michigan law, we do not use use this terminology. These kind of situations need to be handled delicately, as the resulting criminal record can affect a person’s entire life. For more information, please read this.


Child Protective Services

In Michigan, Children’s Protective Services, commonly known as CPS, investigates almost all allegations of child abuse and neglect, including allegations of sexual abuse.


These investigations often happen side-by-side with investigations conducted by the police. However, CPS receives far less oversight than law enforcement, and has far fewer restrictions about what constitutes evidence in a court of law.


Being investigated by CPS for alleged sexual abuse of a child is a very different matter than a standard criminal investigation, and needs to be handled from the very beginning by defense attorneys who have experience in dealing with CPS. For more information, please read this.


If you have been charged with a sex crime

Anyone who has been charged with a sex crime is going to need expert defense attorneys working to defend your rights. This is highly specialized work that should be handled by criminal defense attorneys that have had additional training in handling sex assault crimes.


If you have been charged with a sex crime, or if a loved one or family member is accused of a sex assault crime in Michigan, contact our sex crime attorneys immediately. Timing is important and delays often work against those that have been accused of CSC crimes. For more information, please read this.