In a case that is somewhat bizarre, a man believed he was legally married to his wife, and that therefore he had the right to have sexual relations with her regardless of whether it was consensual. Calvin Ford Martz was convicted on charges of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, unlawful imprisonment, and other offenses. The complainant, Stephanie, was 32 years younger than Martz, and was allegedly 14 years old when the relationship began with then 46-year-old Martz.
In the state of Michigan, common law marriage contracts have not been recognized since 1957. Therefore, Martz and his alleged victim were not involved in a “common law” marriage as he believed. Martz was sentenced as a second habitual offender, given 15 to 40 years in prison for first-degree criminal sexual conduct, 10 to 15 years for resisting and obstructing a police officer causing serious impairment, 15 to 22 1/2 years for unlawful imprisonment, and 16 months to 2 years for resisting and obstructing a police officer, all to be served concurrently.
At trial, Martz had a document which he claimed to be a marriage contract between himself and the defendant, who claimed that the signature on the document which was supposedly hers was forged. Eventually, Stephanie moved into an apartment and left Martz’s residence, although as strange as it seems the defendant’s mother continued to live at the residence.
Ultimately, Martz appealed his conviction on the grounds that he was married to Stephanie and therefore the “victim” was his wife, and he could not be convicted of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. Martz also alleged that Stephanie took medication which caused her to hallucinate and fabricate stories.
In the end the Michigan appeals court did not agree, and upheld Martz’s convictions on all charges. The COA found that even if there had been a legitimate marriage, it does not give a spouse the right to have nonconsensual sex with a partner. The appeals court also noted that documents presented indicated that the relationship was controlled and coercive, and that Martz’s notion that a spouse cannot be raped was “barbaric.”
Certainly this story is a bit outside the norm, however there are many instances in which defendants are wrongly convicted, or sentenced outside of the normal sentencing guidelines.
Individuals who feel that they have been wrongly convicted or unfairly sentenced should consult with an experienced Michigan criminal appeals attorney to learn whether you have a solid case, and how to proceed.