Michigan Sexual Assault Attorneys

No one should suffer in silence after experiencing sexual assault or abuse. Our compassionate Michigan sexual assault attorneys understand that coming forward can be a challenge for many, but please know, we are here to listen and help. Every step of the way, we are here for you. We’ll assist with gathering documentation, physical evidence, witnesses, and any other evidence that might be needed to win your case. We will keep you up-to-date on the developments of your case and will fight for the justice you deserve.

How is Sexual Assault Defined Under Michigan Law?

Sexual assault in Michigan is broadly defined as “forcing or coercing an individual to engage in any non-consensual sexual contact.” This includes a lack of consent or the inability to consent in any instance of rape, sexual abuse, or form of non-consensual sexual contact. Children under the age of 16 cannot consent to sex under Michigan law.

The law regarding sexual assault in Michigan is called the Criminal Sexual Conduct Act. This Act is gender-neutral and includes marital, stranger, date, acquaintance, and child sexual assault.

Sexual Assault vs. Sexual Abuse

While the terms ‘sexual assault’ and ‘sexual abuse’ are often used interchangeably, the term ‘assault’ is a broad reference to any instance of non-consensual physical contact, whereas the term ‘abuse’ is a type of assault that specifically refers to non-consensual physical misconduct between individuals that differ in authority, such as a boss/employee or an adult/minor relationship, resulting in an abuse of power.

While these forms of misconduct are varied, in no way does one form of misconduct discredit or dilute the severity of another. Rape is rape, assault is assault, and abuse is abuse, regardless of the circumstances that may surround the instances of non-consensual sexual contact. All forms of sexual misconduct are serious offenses under Michigan law. Any victim of misconduct has a right to pursue justice for the harm that results from these heinous crimes.

The Legal Rights of Michigan Sexual Assault Survivors

The legal rights of sexual assault survivors are derived from Title IX, the United States Constitution, and Michigan state laws. There are many complexities to pursuing justice in Michigan’s legal system, so the best way for survivors to pursue justice is to speak with an experienced attorney about their case.

The statute of limitations for sexual assault survivors in Michigan depends on a variety of factors, including the survivor’s current age, their age at the time of the assault, and other case details. In 2018, legislation was passed that extended the statute of limitations for victims of sexual assault in Michigan. Adults have from three to ten years to file criminal charges against a perpetrator and ten years to file a civil lawsuit. For victims of childhood sexual assault who were under the age of 18 at the time of the assault, the statute of limitations is extended to 15 years or by the survivor’s 28th birthday, whichever comes later.

Depending on the case details, sexual assault survivors can pursue justice through the criminal justice system and/or the civil justice system. Our firm represents victims in their pursuit of justice through civil lawsuits. Sinas Dramis Law Firm does not represent victims in criminal cases. Each system has its own unique function in achieving justice for survivors, as explained in the sections below.

Under Criminal Law

Michigan has enacted criminal laws to protect victims of sexual assault. Sexual assault survivors can file criminal claims against their perpetrator to pursue punishment for these criminal actions and protections against the perpetrator. The State enforces these laws, which give victims’ rights and access to relief including punishment of the perpetrator under the criminal penal code, notice of the perpetrator’s arrest and release, information regarding the status of criminal prosecution, evidence kit testing and results, and granting and enforcing a Personal Protection Order (PPO).

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Criminal penalties for sexual assault in Michigan can include community service, probation, monetary fines, restitution, or prison time. These vary depending on the type and degree of the assault. A person’s criminal history may also factor into the penalty.

In the case that the perpetrator is deceased, survivors will not be able to pursue criminal charges for their case. However, in certain cases, a survivor may still have the opportunity to pursue justice through the civil justice system, such as in the case of survivors of the late Dr. Robert Anderson against the University of Michigan.

Under Civil Law

In certain cases, survivors of sexual assault may be able to pursue a civil lawsuit against an institution or entity if that third party had a duty to protect the survivor and failed to do so. In these instances, survivors can receive monetary compensation for their injuries, harm, losses, and other damages that resulted from the assault directly from the institution.

Civil lawsuits for sexual assault are important for not only a survivors’ recovery but in holding organizations accountable and solidifying protections to prevent future sexual assaults from occurring within that entity. Survivors in these cases need to prove that the organization or entity acted negligently in failing to provide protections that could have prevented the assault from occurring. These types of lawsuits are what our personal injury attorneys can assist survivors with and commonly involve the following scenarios:

Institutional Sexual Assault

Institutional sexual assault cases are based on statutory and common law duties for institutions with knowledge of sexual abuse within the organization to take appropriate action. Institutional sexual assault cases typically involve an employee, agent, or member of an institution who assaults a participating member of the institution. This can include but is not limited to, sexual assault at a hospital, medical clinic, school or university, nursing home, governmental agency, or church, and in most cases, the parties know one another, such as a doctor/patient or a teacher/student relationship.

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Housing Property Assault

Housing property assault cases involve a victim being assaulted at a housing complex, such as a rental home or apartment building. In this type of setting, a landlord or property owner is required to meet industry security standards and governmental safety regulations to protect the safety of their tenants from foreseeable criminal acts of others, including sexual assaults. Common situations involve inadequate locks, lighting, security, or dangerous persons in “common areas” of the premises.

Innkeeper Property Assault

Innkeeper property assault is recognized under Michigan law as a special relationship that is formed when a member of the public entrusts an innkeeper to provide temporary living arrangements. Hotels, resorts, cruise lines, online vacation rentals, and others holding out their property for rent to the public have a duty to provide safe accommodations to their guests. These cases are similar to housing property sexual assaults, requiring an innkeeper to meet industry security standards and comply with governmental safety regulations on the premises.

Michigan personal injury lawyer, Bryan Waldman, provides an overview of the legal rights of sexual assault survivors on WLNS 6 “Legal Edge.”

Michigan sexual assault attorneys Steve Sinas and Jon Homa explain how civil lawsuits work in cases of sexual assault on WLAJ’s “In the Name of the Law.”

Reporting Sexual Assault

Coming forward about sexual assault or abuse takes courage, as it’s often very difficult to share these terrible experiences and can bring up unwanted memories. There are many reasons that survivors stay silent, including a fear of reprisal, lack of evidence, uncertainty in how to report, mistrust in the justice system, not wanting family or acquaintances to find out, or even concern for the offender. Calling the police or a sexual assault hotline will connect survivors with trained professionals that can help them navigate the reporting process, evidence collection, and care needs available. Find out more about sexual assault resources further below.

How We Can Help Survivors

Another option to report sexual assault is to speak with our experienced sexual assault attorneys. Our attorneys can assist survivors in reporting the assault to authorities, whether it happened recently or years ago. We can assist in gathering documentation, physical evidence, witnesses, and any other evidence that might be needed, and will keep clients updated on any case developments while fighting for the justice they deserve.

Case Confidentiality

Anyone who contacts Sinas Dramis Law Firm about a sexual assault case can be assured that their report is completely confidential. Reaching out for a consultation about a potential case does not require survivors in moving forward to pursue a case. All Sinas Dramis Law Firm clients are entitled to attorney/client privilege, and identity protection is often available in cases where survivors wish to remain completely anonymous as long as the court grants that request.

Sinas Dramis Law Firm sexual assault attorneys

Contact Our Michigan Sexual Assault Attorneys Today

If you or a loved one are a victim of sexual assault, you deserve justice and support in moving forward. Contact us at the link below or call us at (517) 394-7500 for a confidential and free initial case review.

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Trust, Compassion, and Experience You Can Rely On

Led by partner and attorney, Jim Graves,  along with Michigan sexual assault attorneys, Stephen Sinas, Steve Weston, Jon Homa, and Lauren Kissel are committed to you and the justice you deserve. Our success isn’t just based on the compensation we obtain for our clients. Our true measure of success is making strong statements to organizations that fail to protect our loved ones from the horrible acts of others and serving justice to the individuals conducting these acts.

Victims of sexual assault can suffer a lifetime of physical and emotional damage. Oftentimes, the criminal justice system fails to prosecute the offenders or obtain convictions, terribly failing victims and their families. This is where personal injury attorneys step in. By pursuing a civil claim against perpetrators and other liable entities, justice is possible. We have experience successfully handling sexual assault cases in Michigan and Illinois. Rest assured, we will fight for you.

Additional Resources for Victims of Sexual Assault in Michigan

  • 911 Dispatch: Domestic violence and sexual assault victims can reach emergency help by calling 911 or can text 911 if unable to make a phone call.
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: Call 800.656.HOPE (4673) to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.
  • U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline: This line is open 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233, by texting LOVEIS to 22522, or through a live chat service at thehotline.org/help/.

Local Survivor Resources in Michigan and Illinois:

Lansing Sexual Assault Resources

MSU Center for Survivors: Formally known as the MSU Sexual Assault Program, the MSU Center for Survivors also has a 24/7 crisis hotline at 1-517-372-6666. A crisis chat is also open from 10 am until 10 pm for victims to text online. Their Healthcare Program is staffed 24/7 with trained forensic nurses, and services are free to adults who have been sexually assaulted within the last five days. 

Grand Rapids Sexual Assault Resources

YWCA West Central Michigan: Their 24-hour confidential helpline is available at 1-616-454-YWCA (9922). The YWCA offers free counseling and victim advocacy services for sexual assault, domestic violence, and human trafficking survivors.

Detroit Sexual Assault Resources

Detroit Police Victim’s Assistance Program: Call the 24/7 helpline at 1-313-833-1660. This program is designed to address the needs of individuals, families, and communities impacted by sexual assault, domestic violence, or homicide.

SASHA Center: this non-profit group does not have crisis services, but provides free and confidential support to African-American community members, as well as educational services and advocacy.

First Step: Contact their 24-hour helpline at 1-734-722-6800. This is a non-profit that offers free and confidential services to victims of domestic and sexual violence in Wayne County.

Kalamazoo Sexual Assault Resources

Bronson Hospital: Call the 24-hour crisis line at 1-888-383-2192 to speak with a trained professional that can provide immediate assistance. The hospital offers free-of-charge services for sexual assault victims including nurse examiners, counseling, and more.

YWCA Kalamazoo: For immediate assistance, call their 24-hour crisis line at 1-269-385-3587. The YWCA offers free counseling and victim advocacy services for sexual assault, domestic violence, and human trafficking survivors, along with support groups in both English and Spanish.

Chicago Sexual Assault Resources

YWCA Metropolitan Chicago: Contact their 24/7 hotline at 1-888-293-2080 to speak with trained staff. The YWCA offers free counseling and victim advocacy services for sexual assault, domestic violence, and human trafficking survivors.

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