Sex offenders are one of the most stigmatized groups of offenders in the criminal justice system. The initial penalties for sex crimes include jail time and fines, but even after time is served, a sex offender is branded for life, and their conviction follows them everywhere.
Sex offender registries throughout the country prohibit offenders from basic activities and places such as being near facilities that are deemed as “catering to children” (something that can include churches) or posting on social media.
Despite these already harsh penalties, lawmakers and citizens of Minnesota want to bring down the hammer even harder on sex crime offenders, with sentences that include mandatory minimum jail time and lifetime conditional release or probation.
HF1572: Mandatory Minimums, Lifetime Probation for Sex Offenders
In late November, a Kare11 investigation revealed that a majority of individuals convicted of sexually assaulting a child did not go to prison for their crimes. Another investigation, published early this year, showed that many sex offenders have been able to hide their crimes through a “Stay of Adjudication” plea deal. Both of these investigations left citizens and lawmakers dissatisfied with the sentencing structure for sex offenders in the state.
In a response to these investigations, and to requests from constituents, Republican State Representative Matt Grossell introduced HF1572 to state lawmakers in early March. HF1572 beefs up the penalties for sex offenses – especially those that involve children. The bill includes the following provisions that increase the penalties for specific crimes.
For offenders charged with felony criminal sexual conduct, the bill includes the following provisions:
- Eliminates the possibility of Stay of Adjudication agreements for felony criminal sexual conduct and failure to register as a predatory offender charges.
- Eliminates the possibility of Stay of Imposition agreements for felony charges.
- Felony criminal sexual conduct offenders who are sentenced to jail will be subject to lifetime conditional release.
- Felony criminal sexual conduct offenders who are sentenced to probation will be subject to lifetime probation.
For offenders charged with possession of/disseminating child pornography, the bill includes the following provisions:
- The penalties for possession of child pornography will be increased to a mandatory minimum of six months in prison to a maximum of seven years in prison. Repeat offenders will be subject to a minimum of one year in prison, up to 15 years.
- After serving time in prison, individuals convicted of possession of child pornography will be subject to 10 years of conditional release (up from 5). Repeat offenders will be subject to lifetime conditional release.
- If convicted of disseminating child pornography, offenders will be subject to a minimum of six months in prison, with a maximum of 15 years in prison. Repeat offenders will be subject to between 1-20 years in prison. The same terms for conditional release mentioned above apply to this charge.
This is certainly a lot of changes to the way sex offenders are sentenced.
What Happens Next?
The bill has a long way to go before it becomes law – if it ever does. It has merely been introduced to the House of Representatives. It has not been voted on yet. The bill’s life could stop in the House, or it could go up to the Governor and be signed into law. There could be changes made to the bill along the way.
In other words – we just aren’t sure yet.
What we can be sure of is the current penalties placed on sex offenders in Minnesota. Right now, it is possible for offenders to negotiate plea deals and avoid jail time or being placed on the sex offender registry. However, offenders can also be placed in jail for up to five years (up to 10 years for a repeat offender) and then required to register on the state’s public registry for 10 years after release.
Penalties are increased for individuals convicted of disseminating or distributing child pornography. Each sex crime has different sentencing, but they all lead to registering as a sex offender throughout the state. Sex offenders in Minnesota may not be restricted from using social media or living in certain areas, but legislation may change these restrictions as well.
These penalties are daunting enough without the threat of lifetime conditional release or a mandatory minimum prison sentence. The best thing that anyone at risk of being charged can do is keep an eye on the news and stay educated about the penalties for sex crimes in Minnesota.
No matter what happens to HF1572 in Minnesota, the penalties for sex crimes in our state can last for decades. Build a strong defense against your sex crime charges by getting in tough with a skilled Minnesota sex crimes lawyer today.
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 (2014–2015), a Top 100 Trial Lawyer (2013–2015), and a Top 40 Under 40 Attorney (2013–2015).