In Minnesota, sexual assault is against the law. However, the law previously limited the period of time after the crime was committed in which person could be prosecuted for sexual assault – but a new law now changes all that.
In the past, a Minnesota resident only had nine years from the time of action to file a case in court. One exception: if the victim was a child at the time of the assault, it could be filed within three years of the crime being reported, regardless of when it took place. If DNA evidence was a part of the case, there was no statute of limitations.
Now, going forward, anyone in Minnesota who commits sexual assault can be prosecuted for it at any point during rest of their life.
This new law means that those who have committed sexual assault face some very serious consequences forever, no matter how many years pass between the assault and the trial.
Here’s how Minnesota defines sexual assault and the penalties that someone convicted may now face forever.
Sexual Assault in Minnesota
Under Minnesota law, there isn’t simply one type of defined sexual assault that can be prosecuted. Sexual assault is actually a broad term that can mean a variety of things.
The charges a person accused of sexual assault may face depend on the circumstances surrounding the crime. The penalties also depend on the level of sexual assault a person in the ultimate conviction.
Degrees of Criminal Sexual Assault in Minnesota
In Minnesota, there are five degrees of sexual assault, four felonies, and one misdemeanor.
First Degree Sexual Assault
The crime of first-degree sexual assault takes place when there is sexual penetration in conjunction with at least one of these conditions:
- A victim between the ages of 13 and 16, when the defendant is in a position of authority over the victim, as well as at least four years older
- A weapon that’s considered dangerous is present
- A significant relationship between the defendant with the victim, i.e. an adult who lives in the house or a relative; and the victim is under the age of 16
- A victim under the age of 13 with a defendant at least three years older
- A physical injury that occurred due to the assault
- Another coerced the victim to submit to the defendant during the assault
- There was a fear of bodily harm on the part of the victim
If convicted of first-degree sexual assault, a person can face as many as 30 years in prison and fines of as much as $40,000. They will also be required in Minnesota to register as a sex offender.
Second Degree Sexual Assault
Second-degree sexual assault takes place when there is sexual contact with the victim under the same circumstances outlined in first-degree sexual assault. If convicted, it is a felony punishable by as many as 25 years behind bars and fines of as much as $25,000.
Third Degree Sexual Assault
For third-degree sexual assault to be charged, there must be sexual penetration as well as:
- A victim under the age of 13
- A victim between the ages of 13 and 15 with a defendant is at least two years older
- Coercion or force used
- A victim who is known to be physical or mentally incapacitated
If convicted, one can face up to 15 years of incarceration and fines of $30,000.
Fourth Degree Sexual Assault
This level of assault occurs under the same circumstances as third-degree but without the element of penetration. It is punishable by as many as 10 years behind bars and fines of $20,000.
Fifth Degree Sexual Assault
This degree of assault involves engaging in sexual contact that is non-consensual. It can also be charged if you expose your genitals or masturbate in front of a child younger than 16.
If you have no prior convictions, it’s a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison.
If you have prior convictions, you can face felony charges that can result in as many as seven years in prison and fines of $14,000.
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.