Criminal Sexual Assault Charges: DNA Evidence Works Both Ways.

A Case Study

In Michigan Criminal Sexual Conduct charges come in four degrees.  The most serious is first degree criminal sexual conduct.  It is a felony life offense. A fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct charge is the least serious of the criminal sexual conduct charges. It is a felony punishable by up to two years. With very few exceptions, all criminal sexual conduct convictions in Michigan will require sex offender registration.

Not all criminal sexual conduct charges involve actual penetration of a victim or the exchange of bodily fluids.   In Michigan, criminal sexual conduct in the fourth degree often involves what is commonly referred to as “molestation” or some form of unconsented physical contact with a victim’s body for sexual gratification purposes.

Many years ago, this firm represented a gentleman in Michigan who was accused of sexually assaulting a female in a county elevator.  The victim accused our client of roughly fondling her breasts over her wool sweater.  The victim denied any other physical contact with our client.  Likewise, the client denied any form of physical contact with the victim.

There were no witnesses to the alleged assault. Further, there was no form of penetration or exchange of bodily fluids. Likewise, there was no video camera footage in the elevator. In short, it was the victim’s word against our client’s word.

The stakes were high for our client.  If convicted, he was facing a 2-year felony, sex offender registration and possible deportation since he was in the United States on a visa.

The police had bagged the victim’s sweater and sent it to the state forensic lab for DNA testing. The plan was to compare any DNA results with our client’s DNA that was collected at the time of his arrest consistent with Michigan law.

Defendant was adamant that he was innocent.  No plea offer was to be taken.  We prepared for trial.

Then came the DNA results.  Skin cell DNA on the victim’s sweater, over the breast area, conclusively matched our client’s DNA.  Further, our client’s DNA did not appear anywhere else on the victim’s sweater, thus effectively negating any argument that the client accidentally brushed against the victim.

Unfortunately for our client, the DNA pretty much confirmed the victim’s account and demolished his denial of any form of contact with the victim. The client and this firm concluded that in light of the overwhelming DNA evidence, its location on the victim’s sweater, its absence at other locations on the sweater and the statements made by both parties, our client’s best bet was to cut a plea deal that protected him from a felony, prevented sex offender registration and minimized his jail exposure and possible deportation as much as possible.

That is exactly what this firm did for its client.  We moved swiftly in order to lock in the best plea deal to avoid a possible catastrophic outcome had the matter gone to trial.  In the end we succeeded in acquiring a plea that satisfied our client.

This was a unique case. In this case DNA’s presence AND absence played a pivotal role in the outcome of the case.  Usually it is the presence of DNA that ties a person to a crime, or proves guilt, not its presence and its absence.

The Bottom Line

This case underscores the important role of DNA in criminal cases.  DNA will continue to play a major role in not only criminal sexual conduct cases but also for many other types of criminal cases.

If you are facing a criminal sexual conduct charge, it is important to take these charges seriously.  A conviction could not only result in prison incarceration, your name being placed on the sex offender registry, but could also result in the loss of your career and make you unemployable.  A conviction may also be used against you in a child custody dispute or a Child Protective Service/abuse neglect proceeding and result in the loss of your children.


Contact a criminal defense attorney that is aggressive, creative and dedicated with proven results in sex crime defense representation.  Call today for a free consultation.  We will aggressively represent your interests and protect your rights.

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