Criminal Sexual Conduct

Most, though not all, sex crime charges in Minnesota are based on Minnesota’s Criminal Sexual Conduct statutes, Sections 609.342 through 609.3451.  These crimes are labeled Criminal Sexual Conduct — First Degree through Fifth Degree, with the first degree crime being the most serious.  All of them are categorized as felony crimes, with the exception of some fifth degree crimes.  Similarly, all of the Criminal Sexual Conduct crimes, if there is a conviction of any crimes out of the same circumstance, trigger Minnesota’s Predatory Offender Registration statute requirement under Minnesota Statutes Section 243.166, except for some fifth degree crimes.

Factors Affecting Severity
Minnesota’s Criminal Sexual (Crim Sex) Conduct statutes use many factors to rank severity of the crimes.  In the end, we must look to the statutes themselves for specifics.  Some general observations of themes can be made, however.

Crim Sex 1 & 3 concern crimes involving penetration.  Crim Sex 2 & 4 concern crimes involving sexual contact.  Crim Sex 5 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 factors that these statutes use to determine the severity level of the crime include:

  • ages of the people involved
  • reasonable fear of imminent great bodily harm
  • weapon
  • personal injury
  • force or coercion
  • mentally impaired, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless
  • “significant relationship” (i.e., incest plus)
  • “position of authority”
  • psychotherapist
  • clergy
  • agent of a correctional, or secure treatment facility
  • actor provides special transportation service
  • massage or other bodywork for hire

DNA-sm+cmprsdDefenses
In addition to defenses that apply to all criminal claims, some defenses are specific to Criminal Sexual Conduct claims.  For example, if penetration or one of the various definitions of 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 show the lack of proof of those claims.  Where relative ages are an element of the definition 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 that 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 then others.  The Minnesota Criminal Sexual Conduct Statutes criminalizing people by occupation limit the crimes to special circumstances.  These charges can be defended by challenging the claims asserted that these special circumstances existed.

Questions?  You can call Minneapolis Sex Crimes Lawyer Thomas Gallagher at (612) 333-1500.