Minnesota’s Five Degrees of Criminal Sexual Conduct
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Minnesota's Five Degrees of Criminal Sexual Conduct


In Minnesota, there are several crimes that fall into the category of sex crimes, and state law allows for very harsh penalties for criminal sexual conduct.


It is important to understand the varying degrees of criminal sexual conduct under Minnesota law so you do not inadvertently break the law and get punished for it.


Here are Minnesota’s five degrees of criminal sexual conduct, the punishments associated with them, and some frequently asked questions about them.


Criminal Sexual Conduct: What Is It?


The law in Minnesota does not outline specifics about crimes such as sexual assault or rape. Instead, there are five different degrees of sexual conduct spelled out in the law that covers a variety of behaviors. Learn more about each below.


First-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct


First-degree criminal sexual conduct is a crime that involves sexual penetration as well as at least one aggravating factor:


  • A victim under the age of 13 and the defendant is three or more year older
  • A victim under the age of 16 with the use of coercion or force, fear of bodily harm, and the use of a weapon or threats
  • A victim who fears great bodily harm
  • The injury of the victim by coercion or force
  • A victim who is mentally incapacitated or impaired or is helpless physically
  • The use of a hazardous weapon
  • The assistance of a co-conspirator who uses a lethal weapon or force


The penalties for first-degree criminal sexual conduct include:


  • A maximum of 30 years in prison
  • Fines up to $40,000


There is a mandatory minimum sentence of at least 12 years if convicted, and release from prison following time served is often conditional. That means that for a certain period of time after release you must submit to sex offender treatment and monitoring.


Second-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct


The charges for this level of offense follow the same guidelines as the first-degree charge. The difference is that sexual penetration is not required for this charge, only sexual contact.


If convicted of criminal sexual conduct in the second degree, you can face penalties such as:


  • A maximum sentence of 25 years in prison
  • Fines up to $35,000


The offender is also subject to conditional release just as with first-degree criminal sexual conduct.


Third-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct


This level of criminal sexual conduct is similar to first-degree criminal sexual conduct except that sexual penetration is required with at least one aggravating factor such as:


  • Victim under the age of 13 with the accused being at least 3 years older
  • The victim is 13 to 15 years and the accused is at least two years older
  • Force is used
  • The victim is mentally incapacitated or impaired
  • The accused falsely claims that penetration is for medical purpose
  • The accused involves another person who uses force or threatens to use a deadly weapon
  • The victim is between 16 and 17 years old and the accused has a relationship with the victim, uses threats, coercion, fear of great bodily harm, or is in a position of authority over the victim


The penalty for this crime is:


  • 15 years in prison
  • Fines up to $30,000


A conditional release may apply


Fourth-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct


Fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct charges often are issued under the same circumstances as third-degree criminal sexual conduct but the offenses often involve sexual contact instead of sexual penetration. The penalty for this crime is:


  • Up to 10 years in prison
  • Fines up to $20,000


A conditional release may also apply.


Fifth-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct


This involves any type of non-consensual sexual interaction with anybody, as well as:


  • Engaging in vulgar displays of their genitalia or masturbating in view of a minor under 16
  • Nonconsensual touching of intimate parts performed with aggressive or sexual intent
  • The attempted removal or removal of clothing that covers intimate parts


Fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct is usually a gross misdemeanor. It is punishable by:


  • Up to 365 days in prison
  • Fines up to $3,000


If you have a prior conviction, then fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct can be charged as a felony that is punishable by fines up to $14,000 and seven years in prison.


Will You Have to Register as a Sex Offender?


Minneapolis Sex Offender Registry


Not every sexual offense can result in the requirement to register as a sex offender but many do. If you are convicted of first through fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, kidnapping, false imprisonment, felony indecent exposure, or child pornography, you will be required to register as a sex offender.


About the Author:

Christopher Keyser is an AV-Preeminent rated criminal and DWI defense attorney based in Minneapolis who is 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 named a Certified Specialist in Criminal Law by the Minnesota Bar Association. Mr. Keyser is Lead Counsel rated, and he has received recognition for his criminal law work from Avvo, Expertise, Super Lawyers, The National Trial Lawyers, and more.

If You Need a Top Minnesota Criminal Lawyer Call 312-338-5007



With offices in Minneapolis and Stillwater, Minnesota, Keyser Law, P.A. handles cases throughout the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area including:




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