In cases of criminal sexual conduct there must be evidence that a crime was committed other than a statement by the accused. This means that there has to be an alleged victim claiming something happened, an eyewitness who saw something happened, physical evidence such as DNA, etc. A complainant’s word alone is sufficient evidence as long as the witness is competent. It is not sufficient, however, for a prosecutor to charge based on the word of the defendant alone. So if a defendant confesses to committing criminal sexual conduct and there is no other evidence, the case cannot stand.
What is Corpus Delecti?
When it comes to situations where the defendant gives a false confession and there is no evidence against him or her, it deals with the argument of “corpus delecti”. The “corpus delicti” is the “body of the crime,” meaning the “fact of a transgression” or the “physical evidence of a crime.” The corpus delicti rule “prohibits a prosecutor from proving the corpus delicti based solely on a defendant’s extrajudicial statements.” The purpose of the “corpus delicti” rule is to guard against convictions for a crime when none was committed by requiring a showing, independent of an accused’s statement, that a crime has been committed. People v Emerson (After Remand), 203 Mich App 345, 347 (1994).
The corpus delicti rule “provides that a defendant’s confession may not be admitted unless there is direct or circumstantial evidence independent of the confession establishing:
- (1) the occurrence of the specific injury (for example, death in cases of homicide) and
- (2) some criminal agency as the source of the injury.” People v Konrad, 449 Mich 263, 269-270 (1995).
The rule “is designed to prevent the use of a defendant’s confession to convict him of a crime that did not occur.” But the corpus delicti rule applies only to confessions and not admissions of fact that need proof of other facts to show guilt. People v Porter, 269 Mich 284, 290 (1934).
In People v Rockwell, 188 Mich App 405 (1991), the Court of Appeals stated: “the corpus delicti of a crime must be established by evidence independent of an accused’s confession. This rule is limited, however, to admissions which are confessions, and not to admissions of fact which do not amount to confessions of guilt.” Id. at 407 (citations omitted).
If you have been accused of criminal sexual conduct, it is best to call our office while the case is being investigated. We have been able to help numerous clients avoid criminal charges. Our office is highly skilled in the area of Michigan sex crimes and will help ensure the best possible defense on your behalf.