Attorneys in Michigan:
John N. Elliott
There is no denying the severe implications of a sex crime accusation. It has the power to shatter a family, break a career, and tarnish a reputation. More gravely, it can result in serious criminal charges. Many sex crimes carry the possibility of long-term imprisonment, including life sentences. Even if you don’t serve jail or prison time, many sex crimes necessitate registries as sex offenders for life. Some may also impose a requirement to wear a tether and be under the government's electronic surveillance indefinitely. These facts are not meant to intimidate, but to inform.
It's important to clarify that many clients assume that lack of “evidence” against them assures their safety. This is a misapprehension. In Michigan, a prosecutor needs only the accuser’s word to convict you. Frightening, isn’t it? Most cases we come across are essentially “he-said, she-said” scenarios. In this era, many prosecutors adopt a “believe the accuser at all costs” attitude. Therefore, hiring an experienced sex crimes attorney as soon as possible is crucial.
John N. Elliott and his team have a wealth of successful experience in handling various types of sex offense allegations.
To be clear, we don't claim that every sex crime allegation is false. However, we know that false allegations are alarmingly frequent. Even in cases where the allegation is accurate, there may be mitigating circumstances that must be considered in your defense. This is where the expertise of a seasoned sex crimes attorney comes into play.
Sex crimes in Michigan encompass a wide range of situations. Let's delve into some of the common offenses we encounter.
Can you be charged with a sex crime in Michigan without any evidence?
Yes, you can. Charges can be based solely on the accuser’s statements to the police. Despite the absence of “hard” evidence, such as DNA, videos, witnesses, etc., it is possible for you to be charged based on the accuser’s word. In Michigan, the statute—MCL 750.520h—states that in criminal sexual conduct cases, “the testimony of a victim need not be corroborated”. This means that the prosecutor only needs the accuser to testify that you assaulted them to convict you, provided the jury believes the accuser.
Many sexual assault cases are he-said-she-said cases without hard evidence. This is often because accusers don’t report the alleged assaults immediately, and evidence—whether it’s DNA or witnesses’ memories—tends to degrade over time.
The goal in a he-said-she-said sexual assault case is simple—discredit the accuser. It's crucial to take the offensive and give the prosecutor, the judge, or the jury reason to doubt the accuser.
Should you take a polygraph examination if accused of a sex crime in Michigan?
If accused of sex crimes, you should not take a polygraph test without first consulting your attorney. The police often request you to take a polygraph examination. They usually want you to sit with a polygraph examiner from the Michigan State Police. Beware: These examiners are not there to ascertain the truth. In most cases, they conduct the examination with questionable methods, claim that you’ve failed, and then attempt to extract a confession from you.
Before considering taking a State Police polygraph examination, we advise all our clients to take a confidential examination with a private examiner. We collaborate only with top-tier examiners who administer the examination appropriately. If you pass, we obtain a report we can share with the prosecutor, often crucial to getting a case dismissed. If you fail, since the examination is confidential, nobody ever finds out about it, a luxury you don’t have with a State Police test.
In certain cases, after a successful private polygraph, it may be advisable to agree to the State Police polygraph. However, such a decision should always be made in consultation with a knowledgeable attorney.
Criminal Sexual Conduct
In Michigan, most sex crimes are categorized under the law as “criminal sexual conduct” or “CSC.” There are four degrees, the first degree being the most serious and the fourth degree being the least serious. The degree generally depends on the age of the accuser and whether the alleged sexual activity included penetration or only sexual touching. Various aggravating factors also come into play, such as the relationship between the accuser and the defendant and whether the sexual activity was consensual.
The age of consent in Michigan is 16 (with certain exceptions that would criminalize sex with someone aged 16 or older, such as if the accuser is a student of the defendant). Thus, if you’re a 17-year-old boy and you have sex with your 15-year-old girlfriend, you’ve just committed a felony. Typically, you could be charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. It seems harsh, doesn’t it? Michigan law has provisions to help you avoid a felony record and even having to register as a sex offender. Consult a sex crimes attorney as soon as possible.
Child Pornography/Child Sexually Abusive Material
In Michigan, possessing child pornography is often referred to as possession of child sexually abusive material, or CSAM. Prosecutors handle these charges with utmost seriousness. But you may have a solid defense. Was the material downloaded intentionally? Was it downloaded by someone else? Who had access to the computer? There are many different avenues we’ll need to explore to devise the best defense in your case.
Child molestation charges are taken very seriously by prosecutors. They often relentlessly pursue even weak cases. Most criminal defense attorneys would agree that they’d rather be accused of murder than child molestation. John N. Elliott has successfully handled many of these cases, successfully getting cases dismissed and obtaining not-guilty verdicts at trial. We are familiar with what defenses work in these cases and how we can help you prove your innocence.
Sex Crimes Against Minors
Sadly, these cases are becoming more frequent. In today’s world, many adolescents are gaining sexual knowledge at an early age, and they know how to use an allegation of a sex crime against someone. Stepparents are particularly vulnerable. We’ve encountered cases where the motive for the accusation was that the minor didn’t want to live with the stepparent anymore. This is more common than you might think. You’ll need a strong defense team on your side.
Teacher Sex Abuse
Teachers are particularly susceptible to allegations of sexual abuse. Children are becoming sexually aware at an increasingly young age, and they know how to wield a sexual assault allegation to their advantage. Often, the targeted person is a teacher they dislike. Don’t let a false accusation ruin your career.
“Sexual assault” is a broad term that covers many different kinds of allegations. While most people think of a violent attack, sexual assault can also refer to instances of so-called “date rape.” It can also refer to instances of consensual sexual activity if one of the participants was under the age of consent—i.e., statutory rape. Most cases will be classified as some degree of criminal sexual conduct (CSC). Regardless of the specifics of your case, an allegation of sexual assault can be life-altering, and you need an experienced defense team.
Indecent exposure generally involves the deliberate exposure of a person’s private parts. You can be charged with aggravated indecent exposure if you also fondle your private parts. If you get caught urinating in public, you can be charged with indecent exposure. And if you’re convicted, you may end up on the sex offender registry. If you’re accused or charged with indecent exposure, you need to take it seriously.
Prostitution and Solicitation
Prostitution, as we all know, generally involves paying someone for sex. Solicitation involves accepting the earnings of a prosecutor. Both are serious sex crimes that carry the potential for jail time and having to register as a sex offender.
Sex Crime Appeals
Often, a sex crime case can yield fertile ground for an appeal. For a variety of somewhat complicated reasons, sex crimes appeals have dimensions that other appeals simply don’t. In general, this means increased opportunities for success. For instance, cases have been overturned based on inadmissible hearsay testimony, police testimony that vouches for an accuser, and improper expert opinion testimony. These types of issues wouldn’t get traction in most other appeals. In 2017, we won an appeal in a sex crime case in the Michigan Supreme Court. That client is now on the National Registry of Exonerations.
The Sex Offender Registry
The sex offender registry in Michigan is a complex and punitive system that can severely affect your life. Your picture, address, and criminal history are plastered on the internet. You can’t live or work near schools. You need to register in person with the police. Being on the registry can be humiliating. Our mission in any sex crime case is to avoid, to the maximum extent possible, any sex offender registry repercussions. In the right case, if you’re already on the registry, we may be able to petition the court to have you removed.
Lifetime Electronic Monitoring
Lifetime electronic monitoring is another common consequence of a sex crime that often goes unnoticed. Many sex crime cases result in the defendant being sentenced to “lifetime electronic monitoring.” This implies that you’ll have to wear a tether and be monitored by the government for the rest of your life, even after you’ve served your sentence. In other words, Big Brother is watching you. This is another consideration that needs to be at the forefront of any sex crime case.
We employ many tried-and-true strategies in sex crime cases. Without revealing too much of our strategy, here are some of the things we’ll be considering in your case:
For an experienced criminal defense attorney like John N. Elliott, a sex crime case can present many opportunities.
Contact Us Right Away
If you’ve been accused or charged with CSC or any other sex crime, contact an experienced attorney like John N. Elliott as soon as possible. If you’re being accused, we can help you prove your innocence and avoid criminal charges. If you’ve already been charged, we can work toward getting the case dismissed or reduced. Contact us online or call us at our 24/7 defense hotline at (800) 342-7896 now.