The legal term “assault” refers to an immediate threat of harmful or offensive contact with another person; however, when most people speak of “sexual assault,” they mean actual harmful of offensive contact of a sexual nature. In Michigan, sexual assault is termed “criminal sexual conduct” (CSC), and Michigan law divides such conduct into four distinct categories (or degrees). The first and third degrees of criminal sexual conduct involve forced or coerced sexual penetration, whether by a part of a body or by an object; the second and fourth degrees involve forced or coerced contact of a sexual nature, without penetration. Whether a person is charged with first, second, third, or fourth degree CSC will depend not only on the particular acts alleged but on other factors as well—including the relationship between the alleged perpetrator and the alleged victim, the age of the alleged victim, any use of weapons in conjunction with the sexual conduct, the mental capacity of the victim, and more.
In sexual assault cases, the testimony of the victim and of expert witnesses is often the most important evidence against a defendant. An experienced, effective defense attorney can detect any flaws in such evidence, as well as any flaws in the overall investigation of the case, which may have violated a defendant’s constitutional rights. If charges are filed, a defense attorney may be able to get them either dismissed outright or reduced in severity. If a case does go to trial, an effective attorney can expose any flaws in the evidence, bring expert witnesses to counter the evidence provided by the prosecution’s witnesses, and help a jury understand the significance of the requirement that they convict only if the prosecution proved every element of its case “beyond a reasonable doubt.” In short, there is much that a defense attorney can do to help a client facing accusations of sexual assault, and the success of the defense depends in part on bringing an effective and trustworthy defense attorney on board as early as possible in the process.
If you are facing accusations of sexual assault, whether or not charges have been filed against you, contact The Leydorf Law Firm for a confidential evaluation by calling (517) 388-6800.