Criminal sexual conduct (CSC) is a serious crime in Minnesota, punishable with prison terms, large fines, and potential registration as a predatory offender. Here are answers to common questions about Minnesota law on criminal sexual conduct. If you have been accused or are facing charges of a sex crime, talk to an experienced defense lawyer right away.
Is criminal sexual conduct a felony or misdemeanor in Minnesota?
There are five degrees of criminal sexual conduct in MN, with first degree being the most severe and fifth degree the least severe. Criminal sexual conduct in the first to fourth degree are felonies, while CSC in the fifth degree is a gross misdemeanor. However, certain repeat offenses of fifth-degree CSC can rise to a felony level.
What are the five degrees of criminal sexual conduct in MN?
First-degree criminal sexual conduct
The actor engages in:
- Sexual penetration with someone younger than 13 under any of these circumstances:
- The victim is under 13 and the actor is older by more than 3 years
- The victim is between 13 and 16 years old, and the actor is older by more than 4 years and uses a position of authority over the victim
- The victim reasonably fears imminent great bodily harm to themselves or others
- The actor uses or threatens to use a dangerous weapon or an object that the victim reasonably believes to be a dangerous weapon
- The actor causes injury to victim and either uses coercion or force to accomplish sexual penetration OR knows/has reason to know that the victim is physically helpless or mentally impaired/incapacitated
- The actor is aided by any accomplice and the accomplice either uses coercion or force OR uses a dangerous weapon to get the victim to submit; OR
- The victim is younger than 16 years old at the time of penetration, AND the actor has a significant relationship with them, AND either: the actor/accomplice used coercion or force to accomplish penetration, OR the victim sustained a personal injury, OR the violation involved multiple acts committed over a time period.
Second-degree criminal sexual conduct
The actor engages in sexual contact with another person, under any of the circumstances outlined in the first-degree violation guidelines (above). However, if the victim is under 13 years old, the offense becomes a first-degree violation.
Third-degree criminal sexual conduct
The actor engages in sexual penetration with another person, under any of these circumstances:
- The victim is under 14 years old and the actor is older by no more than 3 years
- The victim is between 13 and 16 years old, and the actor is older by more than 2 years
- The actor uses coercion or force to accomplish the penetration
- The actor knows/has reason to know the victim is physically helpless or mentally impaired/incapacitated
- The victim is between 16 and 18 years old, and the actor is older by more than 4 years and also uses a position of authority over the victim
- The victim is between 16 and 18 years old, and the actor has a significant relationship with them at the time of the penetration and either: the actor/accomplice used coercion or force to accomplish penetration, OR the victim suffered an injury during the violation, OR the violation involved multiple acts committed over a period of time
- The actor is a psychotherapist whose victim is their patient, and:
- the violation occurred during their therapy session or ongoing therapy relationship; OR
- the victim is a former patient of the actor and is emotionally dependent on the psychotherapist; OR
- the victim is a patient/former patient AND the penetration occurred through therapeutic deception
- The actor accomplished penetration through deception or falsely representing it as being for medical purpose
- The actor is/claims to be a member of the clergy and is not married to the victim, AND either the penetration occurred during a meeting or period of meetings when the victim sought spiritual advice or comfort from the actor
- The actor is an employee, independent contractor, or volunteer of a correctional system or treatment facility providing services for mentally ill/sexually dangerous personalities AND the victim is a resident there
- The actor provides special transportation services and the penetration occurred during or immediately around the time the actor transported the victim
- The actor does massage or bodywork for hire and the non-consensual penetration occurred during or immediately around the time the actor was hired by the victim to perform those services.
Fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct
The actor engages in sexual contact with another person, under any of the circumstances outlined in the third-degree violation guidelines (above).
Fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct
- The actor engages in non-consensual sexual contact with the victim, or
- The actor engages in lewd exhibition of genitals or masturbation in the presence of someone under age 16, knowing/having reason to know that the minor is present.
What are the penalties for criminal sexual conduct in Minnesota?
Sentencing for CSC convictions involves several complex factors. It’s best to consult with an attorney to find out the probable sentence in a particular case. In general, these are potential punishments for criminal sexual conduct in MN:
- First-degree CSC – Presumptive 12-year prison sentence with a maximum of 30 years, plus a maximum of $40,000 fine. At the end of the sentence, the offender will be subject to conditional release involving sex offender treatment and monitoring.
- Second-degree CSC – Presumptive 7.5-year imprisonment with a maximum of 25 years, plus a maximum of $35,000 fine. The offender may also be subject to conditional release, as described above.
- Third-degree CSC – Maximum of 15 years in prison plus a maximum of $30,000 fine. Conditional release may also be required. However, if a person is convicted under the subdivision which prohibits sexual contact between a person who is betwen 16 and 18 years old and the actor has a significant relationship with that person at the time of the sexual contact, the court may stay imposition or execution of the sentence if it finds that 1) a stay is in the best interest of the minor or the family; and 2) a professional assessment demonstrates that the alleged offender has been accepted by and can respond to a treatment program. A stay of imposition of sentence means that the person will not be sent to prison under the sentencing guidelines and that the conviction will become a misdemeanor at the conclusion of the probationary period. A stay of execution of the sentence means that the alleged offender will not be sent to prison under the sentencing guidelines, but under a stay of execution the conviction will not be reduced to a misdemeanor, as it would be with a stay of imposition of sentence.
- Fourth-degree CSC – Maximum of 10 years in prison plus a maximum of $20,000 fine. Conditional release may also be required.
- Fifth-degree CSC – First conviction is a gross misdemeanor punishable with a maximum of 1 year in prison plus a maximum fine of $3,000. A repeat violation can be a felony punishable with a maximum of 5 years in prison plus a maximum fine of $10,000.
What counts as sexual contact in Minnesota?
Sexual contact is when the actor:
- intentionally touches the victim’s intimate parts
- coerces the victim to touch the actor’s or another person’s intimate parts without the victim’s consent
- intentionally touches the clothing that immediately covers the victim’s intimate parts, or
- intentionally touches the victim or victim’s clothing with seminal fluid (sperm).
What counts as sexual penetration in Minnesota?
Sexual penetration is:
- Sexual, oral, or anal intercourse, or
- Any intrusion done by the actor, however slight, into the genital or anal opening of the victim, without the victim’s consent
- Any intrusion done by the victim, however slight, into the genital or anal opening of the actor, without the victim’s consent.
Note that intrusion could be done with a body part or with an object.
What is coercion in Minnesota?
Coercion is when the actor uses words or circumstances to get the victim to fear bodily harm on themselves or another person. It can also be when the actor confines the victim, or uses their superior size or strength, to get the victim to submit to sexual violation.
What is consent in Minnesota?
Consent refers to words or overt actions from a person indicating that they freely give present agreement to engage in a particular act. What doesn’t count as consent are the following:
- Past or present social relationship between actor and victim
- Victim’s failure to resist a sexual act.
What is “position of authority” in Minnesota?
A person in a position of authority is someone who is the victim’s parent, acting parent, or someone holding duties for the victim’s health, welfare, or supervision at the time of the violation. Included here are teachers, coaches, babysitters, step‐parents, and guardians.
What counts as a significant relationship in Minnesota?
People who have a significant relationship with the complainant include:
- Parents, step‐parents, or guardian
- Anyone related to the complainant by blood, marriage, or adoption
- Any adult who lives in the same home as the complainant but is not the complainant’s spouse.
Examples include siblings, step-siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles, nephews and nieces, and grandparents.
What does “physically helpless” mean in Minnesota?
A person is physically helpless if they are:
- Unable to withhold or withdraw consent due to a physical condition
- Unable to communicate non-consent.
What does “mentally impaired” or “mentally incapacitated” mean in Minnesota?
“Mentally impaired” means that a person lacks judgment to give consent due to their inadequately developed intelligence, impaired intelligence, or substantial psychiatric disorder.
“Mentally incapacitated” means a person lacks judgement to give consent due to the influence of alcohol, drugs, or any other substance given to that person without their agreement.
Contact Criminal Defense Attorney Jeff Dean
Jeff Dean is one of Minnesota’s most experienced and respected criminal defense attorneys. Over the last 26 years, he has obtained dismissals, lowered charges, and won Not Guilty verdicts for numerous Minnesotans facing sex crime charges.
Jeff Dean’s distinguished record in handling sexual misconduct cases includes:
- Dismissals in cases alleging non-consensual sexual contact;
- Dismissals or Acquittals in Criminal Sexual Conduct cases of every type (criminal sexual conduct in the first degree, second degree, third, fourth, and fifth degree);
- Acquittal in “date rape” case;
- Dismissals of charges alleging sexual contact with a minor;
- Dismissals in numerous Indecent Exposure and Lewd Conduct cases;
- Dismissals of child pornography (pictorial representation of minor) charges;
- Reversals and Dismissals of child pornography convictions on appeal;
- Dismissals of solicitation of a minor charges;
- No Conviction in case alleging sexual contact with a person who is “physically helpless” or asleep.
- Dismissals of charges alleging sex with a person who is mentally impaired;
- Dismissals of Interference with Privacy charges;
- Dismissals of Disorderly Conduct charges;
- Dismissals in Prostitution cases.
Talk to Jeff Dean immediately if you’ve been accused of or charged with criminal sexual conduct. Call (612) 805-6916 today.