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In 2021, the sexual assault law in Minnesota changed quite drastically.

While some view the law as striking a balance between giving alleged victims greater access to resources and justice, others believe that it could be damaging to anyone accused of a sexual assault crime.

Now, even based solely on allegations, an individual can be charged with sexual assault decades after the incident occurred.

Sexual assault charges are some of the most severe offenses in the eyes of the law. It has always been imperative to seek the advice of legal counsel if you are accused of a sex crime.

However, the new law makes it even more crucial now.

Two significant changes to Minnesota’s sexual assault statute involve eliminating the statute of limitations on sexual assault and broadening the definition of mental incapacitation.

No Statute of Limitations

Perhaps one of the most dramatic changes to the Minnesota sexual assault statute is the removal of the statute of limitations.

A statute of limitations is a law that sets the maximum amount of time that parties have to initiate legal proceedings from the date of an alleged offense.

In a criminal matter, it is the amount of time the State has to bring charges against a suspected criminal defendant. 

Before September 15, 2021, all sexual assault charges needed to be brought within nine years of the alleged incident to meet the statute of limitations deadline.

But now, there is no statute of limitations on sexual assault for first-degree to fourth-degree offenses occurring on or after September 15, 2021.

The old nine-year statute of limitations still applies only to fifth-degree criminal sexual assault charges. 

Mental Incapacitation 

The second massive change to the sexual assault law in Minnesota involves what it means to be mentally incapacitated and unable to consent to sexual activity. 

The 2021 changes broaden the definition significantly. Mental incapacitation in the context of sexual activity is defined in two parts under Minnesota law.

The first part of the statute has not changed. It states that mental incapacity means:

  • That a person under the influence of alcohol or any other drug or substance administered to them without their agreement lacks the judgment to give consent to sexual contact or sexual penetration, or
  • That a person is under the influence of any substance to the degree that it renders them incapable of consenting or appreciating, understanding, or controlling the person’s conduct.

Essentially, the original law made it necessary that the intoxication be involuntary to charge the perpetrator with a crime.

However, the new statute states that even voluntary intoxication can render someone incapable of consenting if they are so intoxicated that they essentially don’t know what is happening. 

Contact us immediately if you find yourself at the wrong end of these dreadful accusations. 

Minnesota Sexual Assault Criminal Defense Attorneys

At the Criminal Defense Attorney & Workers Compensation Law Offices of Arechigo & Stokka, we are a small firm that gets big results.

We pride ourselves on giving each of our clients the individual and personalized attention they deserve.

Sexual assault charges carry steep consequences that can follow you for the rest of your life.

Don’t take a chance with your freedom and reputation. Contact us today to schedule a free, confidential consultation to discuss your defense.

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.

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