Articles Posted in Sex Crimes

Recently, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency completed a sweep that lead to arrests of 24 people in Michigan convicted of various crimes. It is no secret that the Trump administration has taken a tough stance on immigration. As a result, there has been a focus by the Trump administration on deporting non-citizens with certain kinds of criminal convictions.

What kinds of convictions can lead to deportation?

Federal law says that a non-citizen can be deported for conviction of a “crime of moral turpitude” or an “aggravated felony.” A crime of moral turpitude is one that involves a depraved or immoral act, or a violation of the basic duties owed to fellow man, or a “reprehensible act” with a mens rea of at least recklessness. In practice, this means crimes involving fraud, intentional serious injury, intentional death, destruction of property, malicious destruction of property, and intentional permanent taking of valuable property are deportable. This, of course, encompasses many possible crimes.

A Michigan chef has been accused of domestic violence by at least 7 different women, the Detroit News has reported. The Macomb County prosecuting attorney has charged him in at least one case involving his former wife.

According to Michigan domestic violence lawyers at the Barone Defense Firm, the term “domestic violence” refers to a specific kind of assault and/or battery; one where the accused has or had a domestic relationship or dating relationship of some kind with the alleged victim. Specifically, the applicable Michigan Compiled Laws section 750.81 provides that a domestic violence occurs when an individual assaults or assaults and batters any of the following:

  • Someone to whom they are or were married,

Generally speaking, Romeo and Juliet laws were developed to prevent or lessen prosecution of a young adult engaged in consensual sexual activity with a minor. For example, some Romeo and Juliet laws would prevent an 18-year-old from being prosecuted for statutory rape for having consensual sex with a 15-year-old. So, what is Michigan’s Romeo and Juliet law?

What is Michigan’s Age of Consent?

To understand Michigan’s Romeo and Juliet law, a basic understanding of Michigan age of consent law is helpful. The age at which a person can legally consent to sexual activity in Michigan is 16 years old. This means that anyone under the age of 16 does not have the legal capacity to consent to sexual activity.

Fear of the Covid 19 virus means more people are spending time at home, often alone, in front of their phones or computers. Unfortunately, some of those people are sexual predators looking for their next sex crimes victim. According to news sources, this means that the risk of sexual predators finding victims is also increased.

How are Sexual Predators Finding their Victims?

Sexual predators use various tactics to gain access to and communicate with their targets online. One of the biggest threats comes from communicating with potential victims through apps and sites that children and young adults use most frequently- YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and Facebook. Once a predator is connected to a potential victim, some purport to be someone else by using a profile picture that looks like someone the same age as the victim. Once a predator is connected to a victim, the predator usually aims to elicit sexual photos from the victim and, potentially, meet the victim in person.

What is the Sex Offenders Registration Act?

The Sex Offenders Registration Act is known as SORA.  SORA was enacted pursuant to the legislature’s exercise of police power of the state.  Its intent is to monitor persons that are believed to pose a potential danger to the people of the state. Sora is a database that contains the names and addresses of individuals convicted of certain sex crimes. In Michigan, the Michigan State Police (MSP) is the agency established by the Act to be the keeper of the registry and repository.  The Michigan State Police local posts, and other local county and city/township law enforcement agencies, serve as the locations for the offender to register.  The frequency of reporting, the number of years of reporting, and whether the information is public or private, is dependent upon the type of conviction for the offender and is categorized by Tiers.

What are Tiers?

In Michigan, sex crime offenses are categorized into three Tiers.  Tier 1 is the least serious, and Tier 3 is the most serious.  The more serious the offense, the more frequent and longer the individual is required to report/register.

Tier 1 applies to a person convicted of a crime that results in a Tier I offender status and this offender is required to register and verify their information and residence in-person at their designated local law enforcement agency once per year for 15 years.  In some cases, they may only be required to Register for 10 years.

What is the Punishment for Michigan Criminal Sexual Conduct?

Michigan Criminal Sexual Conduct, commonly referred to as CSC, is the unlawful sexual assault or touching or penetration of another. In Michigan, there are four separate offenses each defined by the acts of behaviors of the alleged offender. Each level of offense is called a “degree.” Within each of these degrees are multiple variables or legal theories that the state must prove in order to support the allegation.  Such variables may include the age of the victim, the relationship of the perpetrator to the victim, and whether force or coercion was used in the commission of the alleged crime.

Punishment for Michigan Criminal Sexual Conduct

Because the various degrees of criminal sexual conduct are thought of as more or less serious, they also carry different penalties.

CSC 1st Degree is the most serious offense. The potential penalty includes a maximum sentence of up to life in prison and often would require a mandatory 25-year minimum prison sentence in the Michigan Department of Corrections. It also may include lifetime electronic monitoring, which is a tether required to be worn and monitored. In addition to punishment, it would require registration on the sex offender registry, SORA.

When Do I Need to Hire a Sex Crimes Attorney?

The short answer is – immediately.  When it comes to sex crimes in Michigan, you should never take a “wait and see” approach. Sex crimes are taken very seriously in Michigan and carry with them severe penalties including long periods of incarceration.

Plus, sex crimes investigations are often extensive and could take weeks or months before any official charges are authorized. Authorized means an official charge against you, which usually begins when the investigating officer submitting their findings or report to the county prosecutor to review and approve, or authorize.  If the prosecutor approves, the officer will then appear in court before a Judge or Magistrate and “swears to” a warrant for your arrest.  Once the Judge or Magistrate sign it, there will now be a Felony Arrest Warrant for you.

If you have done something that might make you susceptible to a Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC) charge, or other sex crime or assault, if you are suspicious that someone may be making a complaint against you, and certainly if you have been contacted by police or law enforcement, you must consult and retain an experienced assault and sex crime attorney immediately.

What Happens When Arrested for a Sex Crime?

When a person is arrested for criminal sexual conduct, they are taken to jail to be fingerprinted, booked, and in most jurisdictions, held until arraignment. The person may, depending on whether the jail officers feel like it, be given a phone call. Next, that person will be taken in front of a judge to be arraigned. At the arraignment, that person will have an opportunity to plead guilty or not guilty and the judge will order bond conditions.

Bond conditions typically include an amount of money the person must pay to be released, no contact with the accuser, and no travel outside the state. The amount of cash bond someone must pay is a significant issue. The bond amount for the most serious sex crimes can be in the tens and thousands of dollars. It can be the difference between never spending more than a few hours in jail versus spending months in jail waiting for a trial because their client or client’s family could not pay the bond.

If a good sex crimes lawyer is at the arraignment the lawyer will try to convince the judge that a minimal bond amount is appropriate and therefore give their client a better chance of being released.

Why is Hiring an Attorney Early in the Process of a Sex Crimes Case Important?

Hiring an attorney early in the process is important for several reasons.

    1. First, if you haven’t been formally charged with a sex crime or, as Michigan calls it, criminal sexual conduct, a good attorney can intervene and try to prevent charges from ever being filed. We call this part of the situation in the pre-charge phase. In this phase, someone has been informed by somebody, possibly the alleged victim, that the alleged victim or the family intends on filing a police report. In some cases, we’ve helped people in the pre-charge phase avoid the stress and embarrassment of long and public proceedings in court because we could show detectives and prosecutors that there is not enough evidence to even charge our client with criminal sexual conduct.
    2.  Hiring an attorney early in a Criminal Sexual Conduct case is important because in most sex crimes cases, police will try to interview the accused person. In this interview, the investigator will ask questions that can be designed to elicit incriminating responses. Even though the person may be innocent of a sex crime, that person may give an answer that can incriminate him or her. One should NEVER speak to the police about a criminal situation, ESPECIALLY a criminal sexual conduct crime, without an attorney because an attorney can spot these issues in the interview and advise innocent clients not to respond.
    3. Finally, if the police collect enough evidence to charge someone with a crime, they can arrest that person, usually at their home or work. This obviously would be extremely embarrassing, especially if the arrest happened in front of children, neighbors, or co-workers. A good attorney would try to prevent this from happening by arranging with police or the prosecutor for their client to walk into court or the police department to be arraigned or booked without having to be hauled in without notice.

Call a dedicated attorney right away to start working on your defense.

A former NFL linebacker, Telvin Smith, was recently arrested under suspicion of sexual assault of a minor.  Mr. Smith is being prosecuted in Florida where the sex crime is alleged to have occurred.  The charge is considered a felony of the second degree, which is punishable by up to 15-years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Under Florida law, this charge means that a person over the age of 24 has engaged in sexual activity with a person who is either 16 or 17 years of age.  Further, ‘sexual activity’ is defined to include oral, anal, or vaginal penetration by the sexual organ or by any other object. Smith was arrested, processed, and released after posting a $50,000 bond.

If Mr. Smith had been charged in Michigan, he’d be charged under a law that refers to sexual assault crimes more broadly as Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC). In Michigan, CSC 1st and 3rd degree are the two statutes that involve or require penetration as an element of the offense.  A CSC 1st is the most serious. Every crime is made up of elements, and in a Michigan sex assault crime, the age of the victim is an element of the crime. Pursuant to Michigan law it is illegal to engage in sexual penetration with another person who is at least 13 but less than 16.  The age 16 is significant because it is the Michigan age of consent.

In Michigan, a minor may not legally consent to sexual intercourse, penetration, or contact until the age of 16. Even if considered consensual between the two people it is not legal consent and therefore subject criminal charges that could or would most likely include CSC 3rd. That decision could cause severe short term and long term consequences that include up to 15 years in prison, and 25 years of registering on the Sexual Offenders Registry.

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