It seems like it wasn’t too long ago that Brock Turner’s mug shot was all over the news. The Stanford student had been convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster, and was sentenced to six months in prison by Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky.
Outrage over the sentence erupted. Many believe that the six month sentence was merely a “slap on the wrist,” considering the prosecution had asked for six years in prison – something completely within the sentencing guidelines for sexual assault in the state of California.
Now, Turner’s mug shot is all over the news again. Why? Because his jail sentence is already over. Turner was released after serving only three months of his six month sentence. He was let out on good behavior.
Not surprisingly, his release has been met with more outrage. But is it justified?
Even though Turner has been released from prison, his sentence is far from over. He still has to serve three years of probation at his parents’ home in suburban Ohio. He will also have to enter a sex offender management program for one to three years. And within five days of being released from prison, Turner had to officially register as a sex offender, a status that may follow him for life.
Since Turner’s sentence, California has proposed a mandatory minimum jail sentence of three years for convicted sexual assault offenders. And even this penalty is considered “light” in many states.
Such as our state of Minnesota. Penalties here put those to shame.
Minnesota Penalties for Rape and Sexual Assault
In Minnesota, sexual assault and rape crimes are separated into five degrees of criminal sexual conduct. The most severe charge, criminal sexual conduct in the first degree, has a minimum sentence of twelve years.
You read that right. Twelve years, minimum.
Of course, not all sex crimes will be considered criminal sexual conduct in the first degree. These charges are typically distinguished by the age of the victim and the unlawful sexual activity that took place. The relationship between the defendant and the victim may also play a part in what charges the defendant may face.
For example, unlawful sexual penetration is charged as criminal sexual conduct in the first, second, or third degree. If penetration did not occur, the charge will be reduced to criminal sexual conduct in the fourth degree.
Criminal sexual conduct in the fifth degree is typically created as a gross misdemeanor, and is simply defined as engaging in “nonconsensual sexual contact; or… in masturbation or lewd exhibition of the genitals in the presence of a minor under the age of 16, knowing or having reason to know the minor is present.”
The other charges are felonies in the state of Minnesota, and have the following penalties:
- First Degree: 12-30 years in prison, fine of $40,000
- Second Degree: 7.5-25 years in prison, maximum fine of $35,000
- Third Degree: Up to 15 years in prison, fine of $30,000
- Fourth Degree: Up to 10 years in prison, fine of $20,000
In most of these cases, the offender will also be subject to conditional release. This means that, like Turner, offenders out of prison will have to undergo sex offender treatment and monitoring. An offender can be sentenced to conditional release for up to 10 years after his or her sentence, and repeat offenders may have to undergo conditional release for life.
But as we have seen with the case of Brock Turner, these sentencing guidelines are just that – guidelines. Aggravating and mitigating factors, as well as family background and outside circumstances, may also affect sentencing. That’s why you need a Minnesota sex crimes attorney with a track record of success on your side. Only someone with in-depth knowledge and experience gives you the best chance at protecting your future and returning to your normal life.
About the Author:
Christopher Keyser is a Minneapolis-based criminal and DWI defense attorney known for fighting aggressively for his clients and utilizing innovative tactics to get the most positive results. He has been featured in numerous media outlets due to the breadth and depth of his knowledge, and recognized as a Minnesota Super Lawyers Rising Star (2014–2016), a Top 100 Trial Lawyer (2013–2016), and a Top 40 Under 40 Attorney (2013–2016).