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Criminal Sexual Conduct in Minnesota

As top criminal defense attorneys in Central Minnesota, we believe that everyone deserves a robust defense, regardless of what they’re accused of committing. Need expert legal help? Contact us online to schedule a consultation.

Few convictions haunt you like sex crimes do. Even after you’ve paid your fines and served a hefty prison sentence, your past mistakes can hold you back. You may struggle to find employment and obtain housing, and people may not want to associate with you.

And that’s just the beginning. There are many unforeseen consequences of being convicted of a sex crime in Minnesota, including loss of certain civil rights. That’s why if you’ve been accused of a sex crime, it’s essential to hire an aggressive sex crime defense lawyer to fight for you.

At Toepfer at Law, we understand that criminal sexual conduct cases aren’t always as straightforward as they seem. Our compassionate defense attorneys are here to listen to your side of the story and design a defense strategy that fits the unique details of your case.

Ready to protect your future? It’s time to reach out to an experienced criminal defense firm in your area. In the meantime, learn about the various degrees of criminal sexual conduct and the possible punishments for each.

Were you or a loved one accused of criminal sexual conduct? Don’t waste time wondering about next steps—contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to start preparing your defense. Call us at (320) 497-4416 to schedule a consultation.

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What Is Criminal Sexual Conduct?

Criminal sexual conduct is an umbrella term for several sexual crimes, including rape, sexual contact with minors, sex with vulnerable adults and other nonconsensual sex acts. Minnesota law divides these crimes into five different degrees, the first degree being the most serious.

Any conviction of criminal sexual conduct, regardless of degree, carries the potential for jail or prison time, as well as the punishment of registering as a sex offender. As a result, the freedom of the accused depends heavily on building a compelling, strong defense.

First-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct

First-degree criminal sexual conduct, as defined by Minnesota Statute 609.342, is the most severe charge. It is reserved for the following sex crimes:

  • Sexual contact with a person under the age of 13 years old when the offender is at least 36 months older than the victim
  • Having sex with a victim between the ages of 13 and 16 years old when the offender is at least 48 months older than the victim
  • Intercourse with a victim who fears serious bodily harm
  • Sexual activity in which the offender uses a dangerous weapon to force submission from the victim
  • Sexual activity that occurs when a victim is mentally or physically incapacitated, such as after sustaining a serious injury
  • Sexual encounters that occur with the help of an accomplice, by using force, coercion or what appears to be a dangerous weapon
  • Having sex with a victim who is under the age of 16 years old when the offender has a significant relationship with the victim

Minnesota law considers a “significant relationship” with the victim to be the role of guardian, parent, step-parent, anyone related to the alleged victim by blood, marriage or adoption or someone who regularly resides in the same house as the victim.


Second-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct

According to Minnesota Statute 609.343, second-degree criminal sexual conduct applies to all the situations listed under first-degree criminal sexual conduct. The only difference is that there is no accusation of sexual penetration of the victim.


Third-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct

According to Minnesota Statute 609.344, third-degree criminal sexual conduct refers to sexual penetration made in the following scenarios:

  • When the victim is under the age of 13 years old and the offender is not more than 36 months older than the victim
  • Sexual contact with a victim who is between the ages of 13 and 16 years old when the offender is more than two years older than the victim
  • Sexual acts that take place using force, with the help of an accomplice or when the victim is mentally or physically incapacitated
  • When the victim is at least 16 years old but under 18 years of age and the offender is more than 48 months older than the victim and in a position of authority over them

In this context, a position of authority refers to someone who is responsible for the victim’s health, welfare and supervision for any period of time. This could include a parent, a therapist, a church leader or anyone in a similarly authoritative role.


Fourth-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct

Fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct refers to sexual contact without penetration in a few specific scenarios, according to Minnesota Statute 609.345. Those scenarios include the following:

  • Sexual conduct with a victim under the age of 13 years old when the offender is no more than 36 months older than them
  • Sexual activities with someone at least 13 years old but under the age of 16 when the offender is more than 48 months older than the victim or has been in a position of authority over the victim
  • When sexual conduct occurs through the use of force
  • When there is reason to know the victim is mentally or physically incapacitated
  • When the offender is at least 16 years old but younger than 18 and more than 48 months older than the victim and is or was recently in a position of authority over them

Fifth-Degree Criminal Sexual Cconduct

According to Minnesota Statute 609.3451, fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct refers to two different scenarios:

  1. When an offender engages in a nonconsensual sexual act
  2. When an offender engages in lewd acts or masturbation in the presence of a minor under the age of 16 and has reason to believe or know a minor is present

Sexual contact involves the offender touching the victim’s intimate parts or making the victim touch the offender’s. It may also include the removal or attempted removal of clothes covering the victim’s intimate parts.

Maximum Penalties for Criminal Sexual Conduct

The penalties for these sex crimes depends heavily on the details of the situation, the age of the people involved and the roles they play in each other’s lives. That being said, each degree of criminal sexual conduct carries the following maximum penalties:

  • First-degree: a 30-year prison sentence and possible fine up to $40,000
  • Second-degree: a 25-year prison sentence and possible fine up to $35,000
  • Third-degree: a 15-year prison sentence and possible fine up to $30,000
  • Fourth-degree: a 10-year prison sentence and possible fine up to $20,000
  • Fifth-degree: a one-year jail sentence and possible fine up to $3,000

In addition to these penalties, each person convicted of criminal sexual conduct must register as a sex offender, and some must register as a “predatory offender,” which carries tremendous stigma.

Aggressive Minnesota Sex Crime Defense Lawyers

If you’ve been charged with criminal sexual conduct—regardless of which degree—you could be facing prison time, large fines and personal and professional upheaval. Although you’re probably frightened and discouraged, it’s important to remember that you’re not convicted yet; you still have a chance to reduce or beat the charge with expert legal help.

At Toepfer at Law, we know how difficult your situation is, and we want to help you find a way forward. If you’re ready to fight your charges and get your life back on track, give us a call at (320) 497-4416 to schedule a consultation with an experienced sex crime defense lawyer.

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Toepfer at Law

11 Seventh Ave N Suite 203
St. Cloud, Minnesota 56303

Phone (320) 497-4416 Fax (320) 295-7813
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