Practice Areas

Juvenile Criminal Sexual Conduct

If your child has been accused of criminal sexual conduct, it can be difficult to know what to do next.

Will they be treated like an adult in court? Will they have to register on the sex offender registry if convicted? Who can protect them?

A strong defense matters.

Regardless of who made the accusation against your child and what they’re being charged with, you should hire a juvenile criminal sexual conduct defense lawyer as soon as you can. Not only can an attorney with experience with these types of cases help you and your child understand the charges and potential consequences, but also craft a defense that will land the best possible outcome for your child.

Juvenile CSC

There are four degrees of criminal sexual conduct in Michigan that, along with the circumstances of each case, determine punishments and sentencing.

When your child is questioned or arrested, law enforcement and Child Protective Services may attempt to separate you from your child so that they can question them in private. This is another reason why having an attorney present with your child is of vital importance from the very beginning of their case.

Examples of juvenile criminal sexual conduct include:

How is being charged as a juvenile different than being charged as an adult?

While much of the terminology and general concept of criminal sexual conduct charges is the same for both juveniles and adults, there are some important differences in how their cases can go.

For example, even if the penalty for a juvenile case is more lenient than for an adult offender, the long-term impact is much worse for the juvenile’s personal, professional, and social development.

Additionally, adults who are found guilty of criminal sexual conduct are required to register on the sex offender registry, and many juveniles are, too. However, if your child was under the age of 14 at the time of the alleged incident, they will not be required to register.

Other differences between adult and juvenile cases include

  • Different places where the alleges acts occur – For juveniles, the acts often occur at school.
  • Different acts – For juveniles, sodomy and fondling are more common that something like rape, which is a much more common for adults to commit.
  • Different numbers of offenders – Juveniles are more likely than adults to commit sexual crimes in groups.


Law enforcement also has more options for what to do with juveniles once they’ve been arrested. Officers can choose to send the juvenile home, send them to foster care, or put them in detention (the juvenile version of jail).

Because the process and rules for criminal sexual conduct cases are different for juveniles and adults, it’s important for both you and your child to discuss the case with your Michigan attorney extensively.

Other things to consider​


While sexting itself is not illegal, it can quickly become a crime if the images involve anyone under the age of 18. In Michigan, making, distributing, and possessing sexually explicit photos of a minor fall under the category of child pornography, and a charge for sexting will be treated as such. Unfortunately, Michigan law has no specifications for minors who commit these acts.

Romeo and Juliet Exception

The age of consent in Michigan is 16, but if your juvenile child had sexual intercourse with another minor, things can get a little tricky. Several states have created “Romeo and Juliet” exceptions for situations in which both parties in a sexual encounter are underage. In Michigan, these exceptions depend on the type of sexual encounter the teens had.


Being tried as an adult

In rare cases when a serious accusation is at hand, a juvenile may be tried as an adult. Charges that call for this include more violent offenses that fall under first degree criminal sexual conduct. Convincing the court that your child’s case should stay in the juvenile system is another responsibility for your defense team.


As parents ourselves, the team at Shannon Smith Law is ready to fight for your child's rights and freedom.

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