Consent is an issue you may hear a lot about, but it’s an important concept and one central to the law in the state of Minnesota.
Consent has to be given before sexual conduct occurs, or it could be a criminal offense. There are issues with consent surrounding age, mental capacity, and even authority, but the central question of all of it is: Did a person consent to the act? Or were they legally capable of giving their consent to participate in the sex act?
There are serious consequences in Minnesota for sex crimes, which is why it’s vital to understand what pivotal concepts like “consent to sexual conduct” are and how the law views them. Read on to find out more.
What Is Criminal Sexual Conduct?
Consent is the idea that a person is willing to freely take part in a sex act. It’s often the issue central to a sex crimes case – whether the victim was freely able to consent to the sexual act in question.
Criminal sexual conduct occurs according to Minnesota law in five distinct degrees. These degrees cover an array of behaviors that can be perpetrated by the defendant. They are:
Criminal Sexual Conduct in the First Degree
This crime occurs when there is sexual penetration that:
- Involves the threat of violence or force
- Occurs with a person who is not mentally or physically able to consent
- Occurs with a victim who is less than 13
- Occurs with a minor between the ages of 13 and 16 by someone a minimum of four years older than them and who is in a position of authority
If you are convicted of this crime, then you can face a sentence of as many as 30 years in prison, with a mandatory minimum of 12 years. You must also register for life as a sex offender, even if you move outside of Minnesota.
Criminal Sexual Conduct in the Second Degree
This degree of criminal sexual conduct is very similar to the first-degree level of this crime, but it doesn’t involve penetration.
If you are convicted, then you can face a prison sentence of up to 25 years, with a mandatory minimum sentence of seven years. You must also register as a sex offender for life, no matter where you live.
Criminal Sexual Conduct in the Third Degree
This degree of criminal sexual conduct necessitates the sexual penetration of a minor. However, the perpetrator is often also a minor or young adult who is older than the victim. This degree of conduct can also apply to situations where there is sexual penetration by someone in a position of authority, such as a clergy member, correctional facility staff, or therapist.
If you are found guilty of this degree of conduct, then you face up to 15 years in prison. You will also be required to register as a sex offender for a period of 10 years.
Criminal Sexual Conduct in the Fourth Degree
This degree of conduct is close to third-degree conduct, but it does not involve penetration.
If you are convicted, you face up to 10 years behind bars, and you must register as a sex offender for an additional 10 years after you are released from prison.
Criminal Sexual Conduct in the Fifth Degree
This degree of conduct typically involves nonconsensual contact in a sexual manner. It covers acts such as taking off someone’s clothes without their permission or groping another person without consent. It also encompasses acts such as indecent exposure or public masturbation.
Typically, it’s a gross misdemeanor punishable by 12 months in jail, but repeat offenders can be charged with a felony. It may also require sex offender registration in some cases. It depends on the circumstances of the case, like if the victim was a minor.
It’s important to note that, in Minnesota, the highest offense charged will determine whether or not someone has to register as a sex offender and for how long. The highest degree would determine your status if you are charged with more than one degree of criminal sexual conduct.
Can Consent Be Given and Then Withdrawn?
At any point during a sexual encounter with another person, consent can be withdrawn. Also, consent can be given for one type of sexual behavior, but that does not cover another type of sexual conduct. And, if at any point one person becomes incapacitated during a sexual act, that incapacity immediately withdraws consent in the situation.
It’s vital to understand sexual consent in Minnesota in general. However, if you are charged with a crime of sexual conduct, contact an attorney right away.
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.