Being arrested for a sex crime at any time can be emotionally stressful and confusing, but more than ever, it is imperative to find the resources you need to understand your specific circumstances and secure the best defense team possible.
In the wake of the #MeToo movement, hundreds of charges have surfaced both locally and nationally with allegations ranging back as far as 35 years. Here in Minnesota, some cases have no statute of limitations for filing charges at all.
There is no question whether heightened awareness about sex crimes exists. Debates now center around what constitutes a sex crime, and if an allegation is determined to be sexual abuse, what degree does a given charge fall under.
Let us help you prepare to search for your best representation by providing the preliminary information you need going in. By the end of this article, you’ll know the difference between sexual assault and sexual abuse, understand the basic elements of sex crimes, and be introduced to the five degrees of criminal sexual conduct in our state statutes.
How Are Minnesota Sex Crimes Being Defined Today?
The definition of rape is one that is currently evolving. The FBI’s definition is now gender neutral, includes nothing about the victim-perpetrator relationship, no verbiage regarding force, and clearly references consent. Rape does still explicitly refer to the act of penetration, though.
Sexual assault, in contrast, describes a range of sexual contact that can include rape but does not have to.
Sexual violence includes acts of a sexual nature outside the scope of the law that are traumatic for the victim. Insistent pressure, reputational threats, electronic sharing of explicit images, and even catcalls can fall under the category of sexual violence.
Finally, sexual abuse usually describes sexual acts involving children, not adults. All 50 states legally recognize that children are not capable of giving informed consent, though the age of consent varies by state.
If you are accused of a sex crime involving a child, you can be sure that law enforcement will come after you hard. The best defense is to get in touch with a skilled criminal lawyer who can demonstrate a track record of success in these types of cases.
What Are the Degrees of Sex Charges I May Face in Minnesota, and How Do They Differ?
Criminal sexual conduct here is be classified into one of five degrees. Below are general explanations and their primary differences.
Acts of first- and second-degree criminal sexual conduct primarily involve sexual acts with a child. The main difference between them is whether an act is deemed sexual contact (second degree) or includes actual penetration (first degree).
Acts of third- and fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct do contain some variances in age range between a minor victim and perpetrator, but also address perpetrators in professional positions of power to include clergy, psychotherapists, physical therapists, and others working in treatment or corrections facilities. The primary difference between these two is whether an act is deemed sexual contact (fourth degree) or includes actual penetration (third degree) as well.
A person is guilty of criminal sexual conduct in the fifth degree if they engage in nonconsensual sexual contact, masturbation, or lewd exhibition in the presence of a minor.
The process of being charged with sexual abuse can be overwhelming. Remember, though, particularly in this day and age, it’s better to know too much than not enough, and understanding your charge is a solid first step in the right direction.
About the Author:
A former prosecutor and lifelong Minnesotan, Christian Peterson has handled hundreds of criminal cases from both sides of the aisle since he began practicing law in 2006, as well as a wide variety of family law matters. This background allows him to look at situations from all angles and anticipate which arguments the other side may use, increasing his clients’ chances of success. His work has been recognized by the American Society of Legal Advocates, the National Academy of Family Law Attorneys, and National Trial Lawyers, and he has a perfect 10/10 rating from Avvo.