Criminal Sexual Conduct

Overview of Minnesota Criminal Sexual Conduct Laws

Most sex crime charges in Minnesota are based on Minnesota’s Criminal Sexual Conduct statutes, Sections 609.342 through 609.3451.  These are labeled Criminal Sexual Conduct — First Degree through Fifth Degree. The first degree crime has the most severe penalty.

All are categorized as felony crimes, except some fifth degree crimes.

Predatory Offender Registration

The Scarlet Letter
The Scarlet Letter

For Criminal Sexual Conduct crimes, a conviction of any crime out of the same circumstance, triggers Minnesota’s Predatory Offender Registration statute requirement, under Minnesota Statutes Section 243.166.

There is one exception which depends upon the Complaint.  When the most serious initial Criminal Sexual Conduct charge in the Complaint is a fifth degree, some do not trigger registration.

People accused do not want the registration requirement.  If convicted of a crime that triggers registration, the requirement extends at least ten years.  Failure to register is a crime with prison if convicted; as well as an extension of the registration requirement, up to life.

The only way to avoid registration is to avoid the conviction in the first place.  Learn more about it on our page: Minnesota Predatory Offender Registration, or call Minneapolis Sex Crimes Attorney Thomas GallagherGallagher Criminal Defense often manages the defense of these cases to avoid the registration requirement.

Factors Affecting Severity Level and Penalty

Minnesota’s Criminal Sexual Conduct (Crim Sex or CSC) statutes use many factors to rank severity of penalties.  In the end, we must look to the statutes for specifics.  We can make some general observations, however.

Criminal Sexual Conduct 1st & 3rd Degree crimes allege penetration.

Criminal Sexual Conduct 2nd & 4th Degree crimes allege sexual contact.

CSC 5th Degree can involve either sexual contact or indecent exposure to a minor under age 16.  There are multiple definitions of “sexual contact” that require special attention, depending upon the charge.

Other Statutory Factors to Determine Severity Level & Sentence 

  • ages of the people involved
  • reasonable fear of imminent great bodily harm
  • personal injury
  • force or coercion
  • mentally impaired, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless
  • “significant relationship” (i.e., incest plus)
  • “position of authority”
  • special occupations (see below)

Defenses to Minnesota Criminal Sexual Conduct charges

DNA evidence in Minnesota Criminal Sexual Conduct cases
DNA evidence in Minnesota Criminal Sexual Conduct cases

In addition to defenses that apply to all criminal cases, some defenses are specific to Criminal Sexual Conduct claims.

For example, if penetration or sexual contact is alleged, if those claims are false the case can be defended by pointing out that lack of evidence proving the claims.

For charges of force or coercion, the defense can point out the lack of proof of those claims.

Where relative ages are an element of the crime under the statute charged, despite the statute’s removal of age of knowledge of age as a defense, sometimes it is a defense.

If relationship status must be proved by the prosecution, the lack of the alleged relationship is a defense.  Sometimes when the state asserts a “position of authority” the facts do not support the claim.

Occupational Crimes

Making a lawful act a crime based upon a person’s occupation alone is controversial.  People in these occupations are more vulnerable to false allegations.  The Minnesota Criminal Sexual Conduct Statutes criminalizing people by occupation limit the crimes to special circumstances.

Thomas Gallagher, Defense Lawyer in Minneapolis
Thomas Gallagher, Defense Lawyer in Minneapolis

Occupations include:

  • psychotherapist
  • clergy
  • agent of a correctional, or secure treatment facility
  • actor provides special transportation service
  • massage or other bodywork for hire

These charges can be defended by challenging the claims that these special circumstances existed.

Question?  You can call Minneapolis Criminal Sexual Conduct Lawyer Thomas Gallagher at 612 333-1500