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Minnesota Criminal Sexual Conduct Laws Cover An Extremely Broad Amount of Behavior

Minnesota criminal sexual conduct offenses are charged in degrees of seriousness, ranging from extremely serious felony first-degree offenses to gross misdemeanor fifth-degree offenses.

The level of offense depends on the nature of the circumstances, the allegations, the amount of available evidence supporting the allegations, and the prior history – if any – of the charged individual.

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Sexual Assault Charges Dismissed

State Dismisses Sexual Assault Charges Prior to Start of Trial

THE FACTS: Client was charged with 5th Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct. He was accused of sexually touching a female without her consent. Client and the female complainant had spent time at a bar together prior to sharing a ride home. Client and the female became intimate during various portions of the ride. The female complainant went to the police two days later to report she had been assaulted. She accused the client of touching her without her consent.

THE DEFENSE: The Ramsey County Attorney’s Office filed a single count of 5th Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct against the client. Client maintained his innocence from the beginning, insisting all contact that occurred was consensual. Criminal defense attorney John Arechigo pursued an aggressive defense. A thorough review of all investigative materials, including all witness statements, recorded interviews, DNA forensic testing, and independent investigation revealed that the complainant’s story simply wasn’t credible. Client maintained a plea of not guilty and the defense prepared the case for trial. Two days before trial was set to start, the county attorney relented and agreed that the female’s allegations were not credible enough to support taking the case to trial. The county attorney recognized the prospects for a guilty verdict were slim.

THE RESULT: The state dismissed its case two days before trial was set to begin. Defense attorney John Arechigo is now helping the client expunge all records related to this case.

First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct

Minnesota Criminal Sexual Conduct in the First Degree is the most severe sex crime in Minnesota.  

A first degree Minnesota sex crime can be charged under any of the following circumstances:

  • Sex or sexual contact with a person under 13 years old if the actor was more than 36 months older
  • Sex with a person 13 to 16 years old if the actor was more than 48 months older
  • Sex with a person under 16 years old if the actor had a significant relationship with the individual
  • The use or threat of great bodily harm to accomplish sexual penetration
  • The complainant suffered a personal injury during un-consenting sex

This offense is most commonly charged in situations involving child molestation, child sexual abuse, and forcible rape.

A mistake of age is not a defense to a charge of Criminal Sexual Conduct in the First Degree. 

The penalty of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, and possibly longer if other aggravating factors exist.

Second Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct

Minnesota Criminal Sexual Conduct in the Second Degree covers all of the circumstances of a first-degree offense but does not require sexual penetration.  

This sex crime punishes sexual contact under any of the circumstances of the first-degree offense.  

A mistake of age is not a defense.  

The penalty of criminal sexual conduct in the second degree carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison.

Third Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct

Minnesota Criminal Sexual Conduct in the Third Degree punishes sexual penetration under any of the following circumstances:

  • The complainant is under 13 years old and the actor is no more than 36 months older
  • The complainant is at least 13 years old but less than 16 years old and the actor is no more than 24 months older
  • The complainant is at least 16 years old but less than 18 and the actor is more than 48 months older and in a position of authority
  • The complainant is at least 16 years old but less than 18 and the actor has a significant relationship with the individual
  • The complainant is a patient of a psychotherapist and there is an active psychotherapist-patient relationship
  • The actor is a member of the clergy and the complainant was seeking the actor’s advice or counseling
  • The actor knows or has reason to know that the complainant is mentally impaired, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless

Third degree criminal sexual conduct is most commonly charged in situations where people have been drinking and a person – usually female – claims that someone had sex with her when she was either passed out or unable to withhold her consent.

It’s always tough to know what really happened in these circumstances.  

It’s not uncommon for both parties to be intoxicated during a sexual encounter and not really remember the details of the incident.

It can be frightening to find yourself charged with a sex crime for what seemed like a consensual sexual encounter.

A mistake of age is a defense, but only to a charge under the second bullet point and only if the actor is no more than 120 months older than the complainant.  

In this situation, the burden is on the actor to prove that the actor reasonably believed the complainant to be at least 16 years old.  

A mistake of age is not a defense under any of the other circumstances.  

The penalty of criminal sexual conduct in the third degree carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

Fourth Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct

Minnesota Criminal Sexual Conduct in the Fourth Degree covers all of the circumstances of a third-degree offense but does not require sexual penetration.  

This sex crime punishes sexual contact under any of the circumstances of the third-degree offense.  

The same limited defense applies.  

The penalty of criminal sexual conduct in the fourth degree carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Fifth Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct

Minnesota Criminal Sexual Conduct in the Fifth Degree punishes non-consensual sexual contact and masturbation or lewd exhibition of genitals in the presence of a minor.

A first-time offense is a gross misdemeanor offense.

The penalty of criminal sexual conduct in the fifth degree will be having a felony filed if the person has a previous fifth-degree conviction.

Minnesota criminal sexual conduct crimes are some of the most serious crimes in the state.

Not only does a defendant face lengthy prison sentences, but registration requirements are triggered by a sex crime conviction as well.

These cases involve complicated evidentiary rules.  

The use of witness testimony, prior out-of-court statements of a complainant or defendant, and the prior sexual history of a complainant or defendant can be very difficult to navigate.  

The more serious sex crimes also almost always involve complex scientific evidence, such as DNA.

Hire One of the Best Defense Lawyers in St. Paul Minnesota

A conviction of a sex crime can have a life-altering impact.  

You need a St. Paul, Minnesota criminal defense lawyer who knows how to prepare an aggressive defense.  

Contact us or call 651-222-6603 today for a free consultation.

Frequently Asked Questions Section:

What is First Degree Sexual Conduct?

This offense is most commonly charged in situations involving child molestation, child sexual abuse, and forcible rape. A first degree Minnesota sex crime can be charged with sexual contact with a person under 13 years old if the actor was more than 36 months older.

What is Second Degree Sexual Conduct?

Minnesota Criminal Sexual Conduct in the Second Degree covers all of the circumstances of a first-degree offense but does not require sexual penetration.

What is Third Degree Sexual Conduct?

Third Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct is most commonly charged in situations where people have been drinking and a person – usually female – claims that someone had sex with her when she was either passed out or unable to withhold her consent.

Author Photo

John T. Arechigo, Esq.

Attorney John Arechigo has a passion for criminal defense in St. Paul, MN. John received his J.D., from Hamline University School of Law and also carries a Bachelor of Arts from, The University of Minnesota. John was named Attorney of the Year for 2019 by Minnesota Lawyer. Additionally, John was also named as a 2019 Rising Star and was selected to Minnesota Super Lawyers in 2021. He devotes nearly 100% of his practice to defending individuals charged with a crime.