A potential change is coming to Minnesota that would remove the statute of limitations for some sex offenses in our state. This change would allow people to report incidents decades after they occurred.
What is it specifically?
Last month, Minnesota lawmakers considered a bill that would allow victims to report felony sex crimes with no matter when they occurred. The bill is called H3434, and it has one sponsor and 22 cosponsors in the House. The Senate has also received the bill.
Why is this bill so important?
Because our current laws have various time limits on reporting sexual assault crimes. If the bill passes, alleged victims will be able to report sexual assaults from any point forward starting in August 2018. The new law will also waive DNA evidence requirements for several different types of criminal sexual conduct.
Combined, these two changes could not only lead to a drastic increase in sex crime allegations, but would also open the door to cases with potentially little evidence moving forward decades after the alleged incident took place. In other words, cases that rely far more on he said-she said arguments.
Certain older crimes will not be affected by the new legislation, but there’s a big chance it could open the floodgates to chaos and confusion.
Still, nothing has changed yet, so below we’re going to remind you what the current laws are so that you understand what you’re up against if you get charged.
Current Criminal Sexual Conduct Laws in Minnesota
Minnesota outlaws rape or sexual assault, which is termed criminal sexual conduct in the statutes. There are five levels of misconduct based on the type of activity and the victim’s age.
Sexual penetration of anyone or sexual contact with a child under 13 years old in the following circumstances:
Victim is younger than 13 years old; defendant is at least three years older than the victim
Victim is between 13 and 16 years old; defendant is at least four years older and in an authority position over the victim
Victim is under 16 years old; defendant has a significant relationship with the victim
Victim had reasonable fear of imminent physical harm
Defendant threatened or used a dangerous weapon during the act
Defendant caused injury to the victim and used coercion or force or knew the victim was physically or mentally incapacitated
Defendant helped another person who was either armed or unarmed
Sexual contact (intentional touching) in any circumstance listed in the first degree charges.
Sexual penetration in the following circumstances:
Victim is younger than 13 years old; defendant is no more than three years older than the victim
Victim is between 13 and 15 years old; defendant is at least two years older but not more than 10 years older than the victim
Victim is between 16 and 18 years old; defendant has a significant relationship with the victim
Defendant used coercion or force in the act
Defendant knew or should have known the victim was physically or mentally incapacitated
Defendant was the victim’s psychotherapist when the act occurred
Defendant used deception or false representation that act was for a medical purpose
Defendant is a member of clergy and act occurred during spiritual advice meeting
Defendant is a volunteer or employee of a correctional facility where the victim is housed
Defendant is a massage therapist and the act occurred while the victim was a client
Defendant works for a transportation service and the act occurred while the victim was a client
Sexual contact in any circumstance listed in the third degree charges.
Sexual contact, knowingly masturbating, or exposing genitals in the presence of a victim under the age of 16.
Current Statute of Limitations for Sex Offenses in Minnesota
If a child was sexually assaulted after Aug. 1, 1984, there is no time limit for reporting under most circumstances. However, law enforcement agencies have three years to charge an offender with a sex crime. All other cases require reporting within three to nine years of the incident, depending on the crime.
The general rule is that the less severe and older the crime, the less time there is to file a report. Every case is different and requires interpretation from a knowledgeable Minnesota criminal attorney.
The current laws allow for an unlimited time to report if all the following conditions are in place:
- The act was criminal sexual conduct in the first, second, or third degree
- The crime happened or was able to be charged as of Aug. 1, 2000.
- DNA evidence is available
Legal Help for Minnesota Sex Offense Charges
If you are facing charges for sex offenses in Minnesota, an experienced criminal lawyer can help you no matter when the alleged misconduct occurred.
Contact us to learn what your options are, and which defense strategies may best apply to your situation. Reach out now and we’ll set up a free case review as soon as possible.
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).