Criminal Sexual Conduct Laws Cover An Extremely Broad Amount of Behavior
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.
Example Case Result
1st-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct
Criminal sexual conduct in the first degree is the most severe sex crime in Minnesota.
A first-degree 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.
2nd-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct
Criminal sexual conduct in the second degree covers all 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.
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3rd Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct
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.
4th Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct
Minnesota criminal sexual conduct in the fourth degree covers all 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.
5th 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.
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.