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How Are Sex Crimes Defined In Minnesota?


In Minnesota, a sex crime is defined as any unwanted contact or penetration of an intimate part with another person. An intimate part is defined as the genital area.

Are There Different Levels Of Sex Crimes In Minnesota?

Yes, there are five different levels of sex crimes in Minnesota. A fifth degree sex crime is the lowest level and is generally considered a gross misdemeanor, however it can be considered a felony if committed by a person who has a record of prior sexual offenses. Anything above a fifth degree sex crime (first, second, third or fourth) is considered a felony offense and can result in prison time if the defendant is convicted.

How Is A Sex Crime Determined To Be Either A Felony Or A Misdemeanor?

The main difference between a misdemeanor and a felony sex crime is that the latter generally involves force, coercion or a threat of force. Sex crimes involving penetration are usually considered higher level offenses than crimes that involve touching a private area.

Should I Hire An Attorney If I Suspect I Am Being Investigated For A Sex Crime?

Yes, it is generally best to speak with an attorney as early on in the investigation as possible. Some people are reluctant to do so because they believe it will make them look guilty, but it is important to realize that if a person is being investigated by the police and prosecutor, they are most likely already presumed guilty by those agencies. In order to protect yourself, it is absolutely advisable to speak with an attorney before participating in any part of the investigation.

How Often Does The Alleged Victim Recant Allegations Of A Sex Crime?

It is a common misconception that if an alleged victim states that they do not want to press charges, the charges themselves will go away. This is not necessarily true. In reality, once the police are called and charges have been filed, the case is in the hands of the state rather than the individual. This means that the state decides when and if the charges are dismissed ahead of trial. With the exception of cases involving a constitutional issue, it is the prosecutor who makes this decision.

Now, if an alleged victim refuses to participate in the prosecution or fails to show up for court, the charges could potentially be dismissed. This is because a person accused of a crime has a right to confront their accuser.

What Are The Defense Strategies Used In Sex Crime Cases?

The strategies used in sex crime cases are dependent upon the accusations in the particular charge. Sex crime allegations are incredibly serious and need to be investigated very thoroughly. In cases where it is one person’s word against another person’s word, it is important to speak with people who may know both parties. If there is a child accusing an adult, then it is important to determine if there is a person in that child’s life who could have been influencing them in a negative way. Generally, the best strategy is to have attorney involved early on in the process so that every possible avenue can be preserved and evidence is not lost.

What Are The Criminal And Collateral Consequences Associated With A Sex Crime Conviction?

The consequences associated with sex crime convictions depend on the level of the conviction. For example, first degree criminal sexual conduct in Minnesota carries a mandatory minimum of 144 months (12 years). The consequences of lower level offenses are very specific depending on which statute the person is charged and convicted. However, most of the third, second and first degree charges are all going to carry mandatory prison sentences. In addition to serving some significant custody time, most people who are convicted of sex crimes in Minnesota will have to register as a predatory offender for a period of time. Depending on the case, that period of time could last ten years or a lifetime. Other consequences may include very severe probation time and very high levels of supervision. Sex offender treatment may also be required in order for the offender to remain in the community. There are varying collateral consequences in addition to the general life consequences. One, for example, is that offenders often have a very difficult time finding employment or places to live since the conviction will show up on their criminal record during background checks.

Why Is It Critical To Hire An Experienced Attorney To Handle My Sex Crimes Case?

It is important to hire an experienced attorney to handle sex crime cases because inexperienced attorneys may miss critical pieces of evidence that need to be captured and preserved early in the investigation. It is not uncommon for sexual crime cases to go to trial due to questionable evidence. For this reason, it is important to have an experienced attorney that can not only assist in the investigation process, but who has experience presenting cases to juries.

For more information on Sex Crimes In Minnesota, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (800) 684-9740 today.

Jennifer Congdon, Esq.

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