On Tuesday February 4, 37-year-old Ryan D. Tafel of Saginaw Township was sentenced to one year in prison and one year on a GPS-enabled tether after pleading no contest to attempted first-degree criminal sexual conduct. Saginaw County Circuit Judge Janet M. Boes sentenced Tafel, who pleaded no contest to the charge in exchange for prosecutors dismissing three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. Tafel allegedly sexually assaulted a young female relative, according to news reports at Mlive.com.
Tafel is accused of sexually assaulting the female relative in Saginaw Township in 2005 and 2012; the girl is now 14 years old. The victim testified at Tafel’s preliminary hearing in May of last year behind closed doors. According to Christopher Boyd, Saginaw County Chief Assistant Prosecutor, Tafel was offered a plea agreement due to the prosecutor’s office trying to spare the teenage girl the stress of testifying, and because of potential proof problems.
Tafel declined a plea deal offered by prosecutors in which he would have pleaded guilty to second-degree CSC against someone under the age of 13. The plea would have left him facing three to 15 years in prison. He also declined to take a polygraph test.
The maximum penalty for attempted first-degree criminal sexual conduct is five years. Following a Cobbs hearing, Judge Boes handed down the one-year term for Tafel based on the defendant’s state sentencing guidelines, scored at 12 to 24 months.
First-degree criminal sexual conduct is the most serious criminal charge of all for sex-related offenses, and involves penetration. Had the defendant in this case not accepted the prosecution’s offer to plead no contest, he may have faced life in prison if found guilty at trial.
Michigan sex crime defense attorneys understand that accepting a plea agreement from prosecutors is not advised in every situation. Individuals who are innocent of the charges leveled against them often prefer to go to trial to uphold their innocence. Deciding whether to accept a plea deal or maintain your innocence and go forth to trial is a decision which should be made only after careful consideration and discussion with a seasoned defense lawyer.
If you have been accused of rape, child molestation, sexual assault, or any related crime, speak with an experienced Michigan sex crime defense lawyer before you do anything else. Your future and freedom hang in the balance; it is critical to discuss your situation with a compassionate attorney who has a proven track record for securing positive results in cases involving sexual offenses.