What is Considered Force or Coercion in a Michigan Criminal Sexual Conduct Case?

Force, also known as coercion, is a legal term of art. It is a legal concept that is specifically listed or referenced in each of Michigan’s Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC) offenses, 1st Degree through 4th Degree. Overall, Michigan’s Criminal Sexual Conduct defines force as actual physical force, the threat of force, the threat to retaliate against the victim, extortion or threat thereof, kidnapping or threat thereof, concealment of something to commit the assault, surprise, or, in a medical environment, it fake or unethical medical procedures. However, as often the case in legal jurisprudence, there are some slight differences in each degree of criminal sexual conduct.

Force Related to Fourth Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct in Michigan:

In CSC 4th Degree, MCL 750.520e(b) states the following:

  • Force or coercion is used to touch the victim sexually. Force or coercion includes, but is not limited to, any of the following circumstances:
  • When the defendant physically overpowers the victim
  • When the defendant convinces the victim to allow the assault by physically threatening the victim
  • When the defendant convinces the victim to allow the assault by issuing physical threats, including extortion, that will occur in the future if the victim does not allow the assault.
  • When the defendant uses fake or unethical medical procedures on the victim to accomplish the assault
  • When the defendant uses disguise or surprise to accomplish the sexual touching

Force Related to Third Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct in Michigan:

Criminal Sexual Conduct in the 3rd Degree, or CSC 3, requires sexual penetration. Penetration is different and more severe than mere touching. Michigan law defines “sexual penetration” as sexual (vaginal) intercourse, oral sex with a vagina, oral sex with a penis, anal sex, or any other “intrusion” of the body. Sexual penetration also includes the use of an object to accomplish the penetration. Additionally, Michigan law does not require that the penetration be for the purpose of sexual gratification.

Michigan’s CSC 3 statute is MCL 750.520d(b) and states that force or coercion must be used to carry out the penetration. To define “force or coercion,” Michigan’s CSC 3 law references the CSC 1 law.

Force Related to First and Second Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct in Michigan:

Criminal Sexual Conduct in the 2nd Degree, or CSC 2, does not require penetration. Similar to CSC 4, CSC 2 requires “sexual contact.” Michigan Criminal Sexual Conduct 2nd Degree also references the CSC 1 law to define what is considered force or coercion. The CSC 2 law says that the defendant must injure the victim in addition to using force or coercion to sexually touch the victim. Force or coercion includes, but is not limited to, any of the circumstances listed in section the CSC 1 law 750.520b(1)(f). This noninclusive list of what is force of coercion is nearly identical to the list dicussed above in the CSC 4 statute.

CSC 1-3 all use the language listed in 520b(f)(i)-(v), but CSC 4 specifically states its own.  There are only minimal or negligible differences, but it is important in every single case that an the best Michigan sex crimes attorney understands the subtle differences and the impact it may have on your case.

What Other Factors Might be Considered in Determining if Force Was Used?

Another common legal technique in statutory drafting and arguing is the language used in each of the 4 offenses regarding force or coercion; which is, “force or coercion includes, but is not limited to, any of the following circumstances”.  The significance of this language is that the statutory list is not exhaustive. Therefore, additional acts or facts could support the argument of what is and what is not legally considered force or coercion.  In researching and analyzing statutes, and statutory interpretation, we also research the corresponding jury instructions.  Jury instructions are provided to the jury members to help them understand the law, the language, and the elements of the case. A discussion on jury instrucstions in Michigan criminal sexual conduct cases is the subject of another blog on this site.

What Should I do if I’m Accused of Criminal Sexual Conduct in Michigan?

To be properly represented in a Michigan Criminal Sexual Conduct or sex crimes case, it is absolutely necessary to understand not only the statute and its language, but also the Jury Instructions, and all the necessary legal subtleties within our legal system.  If you are being investigated for or have been charged with Criminal Sexual Conduct or a Sex Crime, contact the Michigan sex crimes defense lawyers at the Barone Defense Firm.

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