Survivors and their families often wonder how the sexual predator and their enablers will be held accountable for the harm they've caused. If your family is in this tragic position, you may be wondering:
- What types of criminal penalties does the perpetrator face?
- What if there's no arrest or conviction?
- Can third parties be held liable for enabling or covering up sexual abuse?
Our Michigan sexual abuse victims' lawyers specialize in helping families find justice in civil court.
Sexual predators and anyone who failed to stop, prevent, or report sexual abuse deserve to be held accountable for the harm they've caused.
"Terrific." They helped us when the criminal courts failed.
After becoming the victim of a sexual crime, survivors are faced with personal, emotional, and mental difficulties which can follow them for years or even a lifetime.
Michigan Criminal Sexual Assault & Abuse Laws
In the aftermath of such a traumatic experience, many victims struggle to decide if they want to report the crime to the police. But for many survivors, criminal prosecution is often the first step towards healing and helps take dangerous sexual predators off the streets before they can hurt other victims. Each state has their own sexual assault and sexual abuse laws for prosecuting these predators.
We would also advise looking into your options for legal action in the civil court system. While it can be a relief to see the person who assaulted you sentenced to a long prison term, the criminal justice system primarily focuses on punishing offenders, rather than helping victims.
A civil sexual abuse or sexual assault lawsuit can help victims in a number of ways, including:
- Provide the financial support needed for recovery
- Hold negligent parties responsible for allowing your assault to occur
- Help improve sexual abuse reduction practices.
Our Michigan sexual assault lawyers handle this part of the recovery process. We can help you learn more about your legal options in a free consultation.
Sexual Crime Statutes In Michigan
You may be wondering how the predator who hurt you or a loved one will be punished for their crimes. We’ve summarized Michigan’s sexual crime statutes, which generally fall into one of two categories. These laws change frequently, but it’s not important for you to understand these laws in depth. The prosecuting attorney will handle this aspect of the case for you.
Criminal Sexual Conduct
In Michigan, crimes that would be classified as rape, sexual assault, or sexual battery in other states all fall under the umbrella of criminal sexual conduct. These crimes are further classified into four degrees, which cover everything from unwanted sexual touching to forcible rape.
A person is guilty of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree if he or she engages in an act of sexual penetration involving any of the following circumstances:
- Victim is younger than 13
- Victim is 13-15 years old and is a blood relative of the offender, lives in the offender’s household, or the offender is in a position of authority over the victim
- Multiple people participated in the crime and force or coercion was used to commit the act
- The victim was physically helpless, mentally incapacitated, or mentally disabled
- The victim suffered a bodily injury through the use of force or coercion
- The victim suffered a bodily injury and was incapacitated (due to intoxication, mental disability, or being under the age of consent)
- The sexual crime took place during the commission of another felony
First-degree criminal sexual conduct is punishable by a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Someone can be charged with second-degree criminal sexual conduct for engaging in acts of nonconsensual sexual contact (without penetration) involving the genital area, groin, inner thigh, buttocks, or breasts under any of the circumstances covered under first-degree criminal sexual conduct. In the second degree, this felony is punishable by a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
These charges apply to cases involving sexual penetration and any of the following:
- Victim was 13-15 years old
- Use of force or coercion
- Victim was incapacitated
Criminal sexual conduct in the third degree is a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
A defendant can be convicted of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct if she engages in sexual contact in any of the following circumstances:
- Through the use of force or coercion
- With an incapacitated victim
- The defendant works for the Department of Corrections and the victim is an inmate
This misdemeanor is punishable by up to 2 years in prison and a fine up to $500.
Assault With Intent To Commit Sexual Penetration Or Criminal Sexual Conduct
In Michigan, violent physical assaults which occur with the intent of committing an act of criminal sexual conduct involving penetration are classified under their own felony charges.
- First Degree – If the intent was to commit an act of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, a conviction will result in a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
- Second Degree – If the intent was to engage in second-degree criminal sexual conduct, the penalty is a maximum of 5 years in prison.
Who Is A Mandated Reporter In Michigan?
The Michigan Child Protection Law requires professionals who regularly work with children to report suspicions of child abuse or neglect to Children’s Protective Services (CPS) at the Department of Human Services. Professionals who have a legal obligation to report suspected child abuse or neglect in Michigan include:
- Emergency medical care providers
- Social workers
- School counselors
- Physician’s assistants
- Law enforcement officers
- Members of religious clergy
- Medical examiners
- Childcare providers
- School administrators
When filing a report, your identity is confidential. Failure to report suspected child abuse or neglect can result in both criminal penalties (a misdemeanor punishable by up to 93 days in jail; $500 fine) and civil liability. Mandated reporters who fail to report abuse can be held liable in a lawsuit for all damages the victim suffered due to their failure to report. If you believe your child’s experience of sexual abuse could have been prevented if a mandated reporter had spoken up, we can help you understand your legal options in a free and confidential consultation.