Minnesota Rape and Sexual Assault Laws

Rape and sexual assault are illegal in Minnesota, as in all other states. However, Minnesota doesn’t call these crimes by the usual terms. The legal name for the crime of rape and sexual assault is “criminal sexual conduct.” Minnesota has five degrees or levels of criminal sexual conduct that vary based on the unlawful sexual activity and the age of the victim.

The following table outlines the rape and sexual assault laws in Minnesota.

Code Sections Minnesota Statutes Sections 609.342 – Criminal Sexual Conduct in the First Degree, 609.343 – Second Degree, 609.343 – Third Degree, 609.345 – Fourth Degree, and 609.3451 – Fifth Degree
What’s Prohibited?

Criminal Sexual Conduct in Minnesota is all of the following, based on the degree:

First Degree – Sexual penetration (vaginal, oral, or anal sex or any intrusion of the victim’s genital or anal openings by any part of the defendant or an object) of anyone or sexual contact with a person under 13 (intentional touching of victim’s bare genitals or anus by defendant or another’s genitals or anus with sexual or aggressive intent) in the following circumstances:

  • The victim is under 13 years old and the defendant is more than 3 years older than the victim
  • The victim is 13 to 16 years old and the defendant is 4 years older and in a position of authority over the victim (such as a parent, foster parent, psychotherapist, etc.)
  • The circumstances placed the victim in reasonable fear of imminent physical harm to himself or herself or another
  • The defendant was armed with a dangerous weapon or threatened the victim with the weapon
  • The defendant causes injury to the victim and either uses force or coercion for sexual penetration or knows the victim is mentally or physically impaired
  • The defendant is helped by another person to make the victim submit or the accomplice is armed with a weapon
  • The defendant has a significant relationship (defendant is victim’s parent, stepparent, guardian, relative by blood, marriage, or adoption, or an adult who lives in the same house and isn’t the victim’s spouse) with the victim and the victim is under 16 at time of sexual penetration

Second Degree – Engaging in sexual contact (intentional touching of victim’s intimate parts, touching of another’s intimate parts by coercion, the touching can be over clothes) under any of the same circumstances as listed above under the first degree.

Third Degree – Engaging in sexual penetration under these circumstances:

  • The victim is under 13 and the defendant is no more than 3 years older
  • The victim is 13-15 years old and the defendant is more than 2 years older, but no more than 10 years older
  • The defendant uses force or coercion to sexually penetrate the victim
  • The defendant knows or should know the victim is mentally or physically incapacitated
  • The defendant has a significant familial or living with relationship with the victim who is at least 16, but under 18 at the time of the sexual penetration
  • The defendant is a psychotherapist of the victim when the sexual penetration occurred during a session or while the professional relationship existed. Also unlawful if a former patient/victim is emotional dependent on the therapist or the sex occurred by deception
  • The defendant accomplishes the sex by means of deception or false representation that it has a medical purpose
  • The defendant is a clergy, the victim isn’t married to him or her, and the sex occurs during a spiritual advice meeting
  • The defendant is an employee or volunteer at a correction or juvenile facility and the victim is in custody or treatment there
  • The defendant works for a special transportation service and has sex with the victim, who is a client before or after transporting him or her
  • The defendant is a massage therapist and the victim used the services and the nonconsensual sex occurred during or immediately before or after the massage

Fourth Degree – Engaging in sexual contact (not penetration) in any of the same situations as third degree described above.

Fifth Degree – Engaging in nonconsensual sexual contact (not including touching a clothed butt, but including attempts to remove clothing covering victim’s intimate parts if done with sexual or aggressive intent) or knowingly masturbating or exposing one’s genitals in the presence of a child under 16.

Penalties The penalties for the above crimes are:

First Degree – Typically, a maximum of 30 years and a fine of $40,000. The mandatory minimum sentence is at least 12 years. Also, offenders are subject to conditional release, which means for 10 years after release from prison, the offender has to submit to sex offender treatment, monitoring, etc. If the defendant had a prior sex offense conviction, he or she will be on conditional release for the remainder of his or her life.

It’s possible to stay the minimum sentence, but if the court decides to, it must be done in the best interest of the victim or the family, a professional sex offender assessment has been done and probation includes local jail, treatment, and no unsupervised contact with the victim unless approved by the probation officer and the treatment program.

Second Degree – The maximum sentence is 25 years and max fine is $35,000. The minimum sentence is 7.5 years, unless a different minimum is required. The offender would also be subject to conditional release described above. Stays are also possible.

Third Degree – At most, the penalty is 15 years in prison and a fine of $30,000. If the victim was 13-15 and the defendant wasn’t more than 4 years, but more than 2 years older than the maximum is 5 years and a fine of $30,000. Conditional release is again required.

Fourth Degree – The penalty is up to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $20,000. This person also has to be monitored under conditional release and could get a stay of part of the sentence.

Fifth Degree – Typically a gross misdemeanor, it’s penalty is up to 1 year imprisonment and a fine up to $3,000. However, if the defendant had a prior conviction it could be a felony that’s penalized by up to 7 years in prison and a fine up to $14,000.

Predatory Offender Registry
Most of these offenses will get you on the Minnesota sex offender registry. This severely impacts your life, including where you can work and live.
Defenses

It’s generally NOT a defense that a defendant was mistaken as to the victim’s age. However, sometimes it can be for a person who has sex with a 13-15 year old thinking they were at least 16.

The victim’s consent to the sexual acts is often not a defense. When the child is too young to be involved with you, it’s still statutory rape. Consent also isn’t a defense to a psychotherapist, clergy, or correctional officer or volunteer who uses their position to have sex with the victim.

Note: State laws change constantly. It’s important to verify the laws you're researching.

Have a Minnesota Attorney Review Your Sexual Assault Charges at No Cost

A conviction on rape or sexual assault charges not only will result in a serious penalty (including a lengthy prison term), but also will land you on the sex offender registry for life. Everyone has the right to a fair trial, and it pays to hire a top-notch defense attorney. Get started today, with a confidential and free criminal case review by a Minnesota attorney.

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