Anyone accused of a sex crime will face a great deal of uncertainty and will likely have a lot of questions.
The laws in this area vary from state to state, and there is a lot of misleading information on the topic. Because of this, we have tried to provide answers to some of the common questions that arise.
However, because a conviction carries serious consequences, a person accused or charged with a sex crime should contact an experienced Minnesota criminal sexual conduct defense attorney as soon as possible.
Assault Vs Battery Under Minnesota Law
In general, assault and battery are two separate crimes in Minnesota. Typically, assault involves a threat of any violence that causes fear of physical harm.
On the other hand, battery is the physical act itself. For example, a threat to punch someone is assault, while the punch is the battery.
Minnesota criminal law does not divide the two into separate crimes. In Minnesota, you can face a relatively similar criminal charge for physically attacking someone as you would if you threatened to assault someone.
On the other hand, threatening violence with the intent to terrorize a person is a separate crime. There are subtle differences in the law between a threat and a physical act that can drastically change the type of criminal charge you may face.
Sexual Battery Vs Sexual Assault
Some states also use assault and battery to define sex crimes.
When this is the case, sexual assault typically involves less severe behavior, such as non-consensual sexual touching. Sexual battery, on the other hand, generally refers to more serious criminal behavior, up to or including rape.
Minnesota Sexual Assault Laws
In Minnesota, crimes of sexual assault, sexual battery, and rape are all classified as criminal sexual conduct.
Criminal sexual conduct can be in the first, second, third, fourth, or fifth degree. First-degree criminal sexual conduct consists of the most serious criminal behavior, such as rape and child sexual abuse.
Client Found Not Guilty of Sexual Assault at Trial
THE CASE: Client Found Not Guilty of Sexual Assault at Trial
THE FACTS: The client was charged with 3rd and 4th Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct stemming from a sexual incident with a female in Hennepin County. The client always maintained that the sexual encounter was 100% consensual. The client and the female formerly worked together. The female began showing an interest in the client and started asking the client to help her with day-to-day expenses. The client started helping the female with some basic living expenses. The client and the female developed a romantic relationship and started spending time together outside of work. Their relationship culminated one night when the client and the female had sexual intercourse in the back of the client’s truck. The state’s pretrial plea agreement offer called for the client to plead guilty to the 3rd Degree sexual assault charge. This charge would have sent the client to prison for 48 months. The client also faced immigration consequences if convicted of either charge. The client maintained his innocence, rejected the state’s offer, and took his case to trial.
THE DEFENSE: Our investigation revealed that several coworkers were aware of the client’s and female’s romantic relationship. Several coworkers had seen them spending time together in the client’s vehicle during work hours. A thorough review of the reporting party’s various statements to police officers revealed a number of critical inconsistencies in her story. The client fully cooperated with the police investigation and voluntarily offered up a DNA sample. The client was thoroughly prepared to testify at trial and convincingly explained the nature of his relationship with the female and their sexual encounter to the jury.
CASE RESULT: The jury found the client Not Guilty on the charge of 4th Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct after a five-day jury trial. The jury could not reach a unanimous verdict on the 3rd Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct charge. The client’s case was reset for trial on the 3rd Degree sex assault charge. After further discussions, the state dismissed the remaining 3rd Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct charge and the client did not have to endure another trial. We are now in the process of expunging all of the client’s records related to this incident.
Consent is a critical determining factor in assessing whether a sexual conduct crime has been committed.
It is also a common defense against such accusations. Because of this, consent (or lack of) is often a hotly debated and confusing element in a sex crime case.
In Minnesota, consent is agreeing, in words or actions, to any sexual act. A prior relationship—sexual, romantic, or otherwise—by itself does not consent to any sexual act.
However, the existence of a prior romantic relationship may help form the foundation for the explanation of consent as a defense to an accusation of sexual assault.
Additionally, consent cannot be freely given if an individual is incapacitated or impaired in some way.
For example, someone cannot always freely give consent if they have a developmental disability or mental illness. A person also cannot freely give consent when they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, whether or not they chose to use them.
Defenses against an accusation of criminal sexual conduct in Minnesota include innocence, insanity or mental incapacitation, mistaken age (in very limited circumstances), and, most commonly, consent.
Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney in St. Paul, MN Today
An accusation or conviction of a criminal sex offense is a serious matter. These crimes are aggressively prosecuted in Minnesota and should not be taken lightly.
Charges can range from a misdemeanor to a felony, and a conviction can carry a sentence of up to thirty years imprisonment.
If you or a loved one has been accused of committing a criminal sex offense, you need a detail-oriented, accessible, and thorough attorney with experience in the area.
Arechigo & Stokka has successfully defended hundreds of clients in criminal cases. Many successful defenses have involved accusations of sex crimes, including high-profile cases in this area.
We are dedicated to being there for you every step of the way and pride ourselves on the access we give our clients. Contact us online or call (651) 222-6603 today or to speak with our experienced attorneys.
Read testimonials from prior clients, check out our Youtube channel, Facebook profile, or Twitter account to get to know us, and contact our firm today.
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.