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Sexual assault, also called criminal sexual conduct in Minnesota, refers to alleged sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the consent of the victim. Allegations can include:

  • Unwanted sexual touching;
  • Forcing the victim to perform unwanted sexual acts; and 
  • Penetration of the victim’s body.

Minnesota law splits sexual assault into five degrees depending on the circumstances of the alleged act. First-degree through fourth-degree sexual assault are felonies, while fifth-degree sexual assault is a gross misdemeanor or felony depending on the situation.

If you face sexual assault charges in Minnesota, you should contact a sexual assault lawyer as soon as possible.

First-Degree Sexual Assault

First-degree sexual assault is the most serious form of sexual assault in Minnesota. It involves an allegation of sexual penetration of any person or an allegation of sexual contact with a minor under 13 years old. Some, but not all, of the alleged circumstances that could give rise to a first-degree sexual assault charge include:

  • The victim was under 13 and the accused was more than three years older than the victim;
  • The victim was between 13 and 16, the accused was in a position of authority over the victim, and the accused was more than four years older than the victim; or
  • The accused had a dangerous weapon and used or threatened to use the weapon to force the victim to submit to the act.

First-degree sexual assault carries a maximum punishment of 30 years in prison and a $40,000 fine.

Second-Degree Sexual Assault

Second-degree sexual assault covers alleged sexual contact under at least one of the circumstances also applicable to first-degree sexual assault. It carries a maximum punishment of up to 25 years in prison and a $35,000 fine.

Third-Degree Sexual Assault

Third-degree sexual assault involves sexual penetration of any person. Some, but not all, of the alleged circumstances that could give rise to a third-degree sexual assault charge include:

  • The victim was under 13 and the accused was no more than three years older than the victim;
  • The victim was between 13 and 16 and the accused was more than two years older than the victim; or
  • The accused knew or had reason to know that the victim was mentally impaired, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless.

Third-degree sexual assault carries a punishment of up to 15 years in prison and a $30,000 fine.

Fourth-Degree Sexual Assault

Fourth-degree sexual assault involves sexual contact with another person. Some, but not all, of the alleged circumstances that could give rise to a fourth-degree sexual assault charge include:

  • The victim was under 13 and the accused was no more than three years older than the victim;
  • The victim was between 13 and 16 and the accused was more than four years older than the victim; or
  • The accused used force or coercion to accomplish the sexual contact.

It carries a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

Fifth-Degree Sexual Assault

Acts that constitute an allegation of fifth-degree sexual assault include:

  • Nonconsensual sexual contact; or
  • Knowingly masturbating or exposing one’s genitals in the presence of a minor under 16 years old.

When charged as a gross misdemeanor, it carries a maximum punishment of up to one year in jail and a $3,000 fine. When charged as a felony, it carries a punishment of up to seven years in prison and a $14,000 fine.

Can I Get Sexual Assault Charges Dropped or Reduced?

Depending on the facts of your case, an attorney might get your sexual assault charges dropped or reduced. However, getting your charges dropped or reduced can be difficult because key defenses do not apply in sexual assault cases. For example, consent is not an available defense to allegations involving minors and some cases involving alleged intoxication.

The defense known as “mistake of age” is also generally unavailable in sexual assault charges involving minors. You should speak with a sexual assault lawyer today to get a betters sense of what defenses are available in your individual case.

How the Sexual Assault Lawyers at Arechigo & Stokka, P.A., Can Help You

If you face sexual assault charges in Minnesota, our sexual assault lawyers at Arechigo & Stokka, P.A., will work to get your charges reduced or dismissed. We will thoroughly explain your options to you so that you can make informed decisions throughout your case. We have achieved many positive results for our clients because of our experience in the Minnesota criminal justice system and dedication to our individual clients’ needs.

Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.

Author Photo

John T. Arechigo, Esq.

Attorney John Arechigo has a passion for criminal defense.  He devotes nearly 100% of his practice to defending individuals charged with a crime. John offers what very few other Twin Cities criminal defense lawyers can offer. His combination of experience, success, connections, resources, accessibility, and complete handling of a client’s file sets him apart from his colleagues.

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