The idea of consent is one of the key points in sexual assault cases. Who is able to give consent, and who isn’t able to give it?
In the state of Minnesota, there are groups of people under the law who are unable to give their consent to sexual acts. Engaging in penetrative sexual acts with any of these people is considered to be sexual assault.
It’s vital for everyone to understand who can legally give consent and who cannot – and who may be considered an at-risk adult, which could lead to serious accusations of sexual assault if you engage in a sex act with them.
Read on to find out more about at-risk adults in Minnesota and the serious penalties that are associated with sexual assault in the state.
Who Is an At-Risk Adult?
At-risk adults are those people who are over the age of 18 but considered to be at risk of maltreatment due to their age or disability status. So, someone over the age of 70 who lives in a nursing home may be considered an at-risk adult – or a 25-year-old who is mentally handicapped.
When talking about at-risk adults, it’s those who are easier to take advantage of, for a variety of reasons. They may not be able to adequately protect themselves or understand their actions. That’s why crimes against at-risk individuals are often treated more harshly.
What Is Sexual Assault
Sexual assault, more commonly referred to as rape, is a crime that is committed when someone commits a penetrative sexual act on another without their consent. The inability of that person to give consent legally also qualifies the act as sexual assault.
Who cannot legally give consent for penetrative sexual acts? Children are one example, and mentally disabled adults are another. Also, someone is considered to be unable to give their consent if force or the threat of force is used to coerce them into the act.
In Minnesota, the state statutes define sexual assault as “committing an act of penetration with the threat of force or use of force on a victim who lacks the ability to consent or is a family member under the age of 18.” It can also be committed by someone 17 or older who is in a position of authority over another who is between the ages of 13 and 18.
There is also aggravated sexual assault, which carries with it more significant penalties than sexual assault in the state. Aggravated sexual assault is often charged in cases where the victim is at-risk, meaning:
- They are an adult over the age of 60
- They are physically handicapped
- They are mentally handicapped
It can also be charged in situations where:
- There was bodily harm done
- A dangerous weapon was used
- Another felony was committed at the same time
- The life of the victim was threatened
- The victim was drugged by the defendant
The Penalties for Sexual Assault
In cases where aggravated criminal sexual assault is proven, the defendant can face the penalties for a first-degree felony, the most serious in Minnesota. This can result in a prison sentence of up to 30 years and fines of as much as $40,000.
Probation will not be an option for this crime, meaning that prison time will definitely occur, and there’s a mandatory minimum sentence of 12 years. Second or subsequent aggravated sexual assault convictions will result in more serious penalties.
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.