If you’re facing sex crime charges in Minnesota, you could be looking at fines and probation — or you may need to prepare for harsher penalties. It all depends on the circumstances of the crime, your criminal history, and your legal representation.
Types of Crimes
In Minnesota, sexual assault, sexual battery, and rape are all classified as criminal sexual conduct (CSC). This crime is classified into five categories:
- First degree – First degree criminal sexual conduct involves sexual penetration through force or violence, or against a person who is mentally or physically impaired, as well as certain sexual contact with a person under the age of 13.
- Second degree – A person can be charged with second-degree criminal sexual conduct if they have had sexual contact with a person against their will through the use or threat of force or violence.
- Third-degree – This category usually applies to statutory rape cases and cases in which the accused was in a position of power over the victim at the time of the incident. These positions of power include law enforcement officers, teachers, therapists, etc.
- Fourth-degree – Fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct is very similar to third-degree CSC, except this category does not include cases involving penetration.
- Fifth degree – This category includes other types of sexual misconduct including cases of sexual battery in which no force, violence, or threat of force or violence occurred. Fifth degree CSC also includes public acts of lewdness.
There is no statute of limitations on sexual assault in Minnesota, so you can be charged for criminal sexual conduct any time after the assault occurred.
All sex crimes are serious. They have lasting effects that hurt people in different ways in all aspects of their lives, but under the law, penalties for sex crimes range in severity from gross misdemeanor to felony.
If you are found guilty of fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct, you will be charged with a gross misdemeanor. Penalties for gross misdemeanors can include probation and fines of up to $3,000. Those charged with fifth-degree CSC may or may not be required to register as a sex offender.
First, through fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct charges are felonious.
Fourth degree CSC can carry a sentence of up to ten years in prison. For third-degree CSC, those found guilty may find themselves in prison for fifteen years. Second-degree CSC is punishable by 25 years to life, and a first-degree CSC can land you in prison for thirty years to life.
If you’re convicted of a felony, the punishment doesn’t stop after you’ve paid the fines, done the time, and completed the probation. Convicted felons are often stripped of freedoms enjoyed by American citizens, including:
- Right to vote
- Right to travel abroad
- Right to own a firearm
- Right to hold many professional licenses (e.g. teacher, childcare professional, law enforcement, public official, etc.)
Sex Offender Registry
If you are convicted of criminal sexual conduct, you will most likely have to register with the Minnesota Predatory Offender Registry. Well after fines are paid and sentences are served, if you find yourself on the registry, you will be required to:
- Avoid living in certain areas
- Inform neighbors of sex offender status
- Report your internet service provider, screen names, and email accounts to local law enforcement
- Report any new residential addresses to local law enforcement
- Report to the local police station every one to three years for an updated photograph
In addition to adhering to these stipulations, anyone convicted of a sex crime will most likely see their career, relationships, and reputation suffer as a result.
Criminal Sexual Conduct Defense
No matter the degree of the offense, a criminal sexual conduct charge will severely affect your life, so it’s important to seek legal help as soon as possible from an experienced defense attorney. A good lawyer could mean the difference between probation and prison.
Here are some defenses that have proven to be effective in some Minnesota sex crime cases:
- Alibi – If you can prove that you were somewhere else at the time of the crime, then it will be almost impossible for a prosecutor to argue your guilt. Evidence that often proves alibis include receipts, ticket stubs, and eye-witness statements.
- Mistaken identity – Showing that the perpetrator was actually someone else is a sure way to prove your innocence of criminal sexual conduct.
- Consensual act – If you have proof that the victim gave clear consent to engage in sexual activity, then you may be able to get the charges dropped.
- False accusation – Sometimes people lie. If you are able to prove that the incident never happened or that the victim is lying about what really happened, then you may have the proper means to fight the charges.
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. Keyers 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.