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A Better Partnership
April 25, 2012

COA Opinion: Court of Appeals affirms conviction for criminal sexual conduct

In People v. Eisen, the Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed the defendant's convictions of three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct. The Court held that the jury instructions regarding the first-degree charge were imperfect but sufficiently protected the defendant's rights. The Court reasoned that the instructions were plainly erroneous because they omitted the requirement that the victim must have been under thirteen years of age at the time of the crime, but the effect of this error was significantly reduced because the jury verdict form did reflect the requirement that the victim must be younger than 13. With respect to the third-degree charge, which requires 'force or coercion,' the Court held that there was sufficient evidence to sustain the conviction because of the long history of abuse, and the victim's testimony that she was scared and believed the sexual conduct would happen whether she wanted it or not. The court concluded that force or coercion exists 'whenever a defendant's conduct induces a victim to reasonably believe that the victim has no practical choice because of the history of child sexual abuse or for some other similarly valid reason.'

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