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Criminal Sexual Conduct

In the State of Minnesota, criminal sexual conduct is classified under five categories. The different categories are ranked according to the seriousness of the crime. These rankings also depend on the nature of the actions taken, the allegations, and the amount of evidence that has been gathered to support the allegations. The charge will also be affected by any prior convictions on the accused’s criminal record.

If you are being charged with criminal sexual conduct, you will need experienced legal representation to work through the challenging legal process these charges will bring. Ringstrom Law will provide you the legal help you need to have these charges reduced or possibly dismissed.

Criminal Sexual Conduct, First Degree

First-degree criminal sexual conduct is the most severe charge for a criminal sexual conduct crime. This level of conduct applies for crimes which include:

  • Having made sexual contact or having sex with a person who is under the age of 13, and the alleged offender is more than 36 months older than 13

  • Having had sex with a victim who is between the ages of 13 to 16 years old and the offender is 48 months older than the victim

  • Having had sex with a person who is under the age of 16 and it is determined the offender has had a significant relationship with the victim

  • Significant relationship is defined as being a guardian, stepparent, or parent to the victim. It also includes any persons related to the alleged victim by marriage, blood, or adoption. It includes persons such as a stepsister, brother, first cousin, nephew, uncle, grandparent, great-grandparent, great aunt, great uncle, sister, or brother. Significant relationship also includes those who regularly or intermittently reside in the same dwelling as the alleged victim, but is not a spouse to the parent.

  • Having used great bodily harm or threats to perform sexual penetration

  • If the alleged victim has suffered personal injury during an act of un-consented sex

The act of first-degree criminal sexual conduct is most often charged when child molestation, forced rape, or child sexual abuse has occurred. The defense of not knowing the victim’s age is usually not applicable in a first-degree criminal sexual conduct charge. If charged with first-degree criminal misconduct, a defendant is facing up to thirty years in prison, which could be extended if there are other aggravating factors present in the case.

This charge is extremely serious with life-altering consequences. You will want the experienced defense of Ringstrom Law to help you through this complicated legal process.

Criminal Sexual Conduct- Second Degree

With a charge of criminal sexual conduct in the second degree, it means all situations listed under the first degree charges exist, except there has been no sexual penetration to the alleged victim. Under Minnesota Statute 609.343, second-degree criminal sexual conduct involves:

  • An alleged victim who is under the age of 13 and the offender is more than 36 months older than 13. Defense does not allow for the offender to have mistaken the victim’s age nor their consent before the criminal sexual conduct occurred. The prosecution for the state is not required to prove that coercion was present in the sexual contact

  • An alleged victim is between the ages of 13 to 16, and the offender is more than 48 months older than the victim and holds a certain amount of authority over the victim. Having mistaken the victim’s age or consent is not an acceptable defense with this charge.

  • The alleged victim has reason to fear imminent bodily harm to themselves or others at the time criminal sexual conduct occurred

  • A dangerous weapon or any other manner lead the alleged victim to reasonably believe it would be life-threatening if they did not submit to the sexual act

  • The offender causes personal injury to the victim and uses force or coercion to complete the sexual conduct, or if the offender knows or has reason to know the victim is mentally incapacitated, mentally impaired, or physically helpless

  • The offender has a significant relationship with the victim who is under the age of 16 and has used force or coercion to accomplish the sexual conduct. Also, if the offender caused personal injury to the victim or the abuse involves multiple acts of sexual conduct. A defense of mistaking the victim’s age or consent is not allowed with this charge.

If convicted of criminal sexual conduct in the second degree, you would face up to twenty-five years in prison and fines up to $35,000. There could be more severe penalties if aggravated circumstances exist in your case. Having experienced legal counsel by a reliable criminal defense attorney is necessary for anyone facing these charges. Ringstrom Law has the experience and is knowledgeable in Minnesota laws. We can help you with these serious charges and attempt to reduce the charges or possibly have your case dismissed, depending on your situation.

Criminal Sexual Conduct, Third Degree

A charge of criminal sexual conduct in the third degree is charged if the following apply:

  • The alleged victim is under the age of 13, and the offender is no more than 36 months older than the said victim

  • The alleged victim is at least 13 years of age but less than 16 years of age and the offender is 24 months older than the victim

  • The alleged victim is at least 16 years of age but not yet 18 years old, and the offender is more than 48 months older than the victim and in an authoritative position

  • An authoritative position is one in which the offender is in a current position of authority, such as someone who is a parent or is acting in a position of parenting and is assuming parental rights, duties, and responsibility of the alleged victim. This authoritative position makes the offender responsible for the welfare, health, and supervision of the alleged victim, whether independently or through another. This supervision would include any amount of time, no matter how brief, and can include time spent with a psychotherapist.

  • The alleged victim is at least 16 years of age, but not older than 18 years of age, and the offender has a significant relationship with the victim

  • The alleged victim is a patient of a therapist, and an active sexual relationship develops between the therapist and patient

  • The offender is a member of the church or clergy, and the alleged victim has sought their advice or counsel

  • The offender has reason to know or knows the alleged victim is mentally incapacitated, mentally impaired, or helpless due to physical disability

With a criminal sexual conduct charge in the third degree, one is commonly charged if the situation occurred while there was alcohol involved. Most cases of this charge happen when a female makes an allegation that someone has had sex with her after she has passed out or was unable to give consent for a sexual act. With this type of allegation, it is not uncommon for both parties to be under the influence at the time of the act. Details are often sketchy regarding who, if either, committed a crime.

If you find yourself charged with criminal sexual conduct, it can be a traumatic experience if the event in question was considered a consensual sexual encounter. You will need Ringstrom Law working on your behalf to protect your innocence and rights in this situation. A mistaken age is not a defense to these charges, but other defense strategies can be used to get you through this challenging legal process.

A conviction of criminal sexual conduct in the third degree, the penalty can be a 15-year prison sentence and a possible fine of $30,000.

Criminal Sexual Conduct, Fourth Degree

The charge of criminal sexual conduct in the fourth degree under Minnesota Statute 609.345 is defined as:

  • An offender who engages in sexual contact with another who is under the age of 13 and the offender is no more than 36 months older than the alleged victim. A defendant cannot use a defense strategy of not knowing the victim’s age in this charge. The state will also not have to prove coercion with these charges.

  • The alleged victim is at least 13 years of age but less than 16 years old, and the accused is more than 48 months older than the victim or is in a position of authority over the victim or was recently. One cannot use consent as a defense with this charge, nor can mistake of the victim’s age be used.

  • The offender uses force to complete the sexual contact

  • The offender has reason to know or does know the alleged victim is mentally incapacitated, mentally impaired, or helpless with a physical disability

  • The offender is at least 16 years of age but less than 18 years old, and the offender is more than 48 months older than the alleged victim and is in a position of authority or is currently in such a position. The mistake of the alleged victim’s age cannot be used as a defense, nor can consent by the alleged victim by used.

  • The offender has a significant relationship to the alleged victim, and the offender was at least 16 years of age but less than 18 years old at the time of the sexual conduct. Mistake as to the age of the victim cannot be used as a defense against this charge, nor can consent by the victim be a defense strategy.

  • The offender has a significant relationship with the alleged victim, and the offender was at least 16 years of age but under 18 years old when the sexual conduct occurred

  • The alleged victim suffered a serious personal injury

  • The sexual conduct involved multiple acts over an extended period of time

  • The offender is a therapist, and the alleged victim is a patient of the therapist when the sexual conduct happened either during a therapy session or outside a therapy session if the alleged victim has a patient-therapist relationship. It will also be a fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct charge if the offender is a therapist, and the alleged victim is a former patient of the therapist for whom they are emotionally dependant upon.

  • The offender accomplishes sexual conduct by using deception to make the alleged victim believe the contact is for medical purposes. Consent by the victim is not a defense in this charge.

  • The offender is a member of the church or clergy, and the alleged victim is not married to the offender. When there is sexual contact that occurs during a session where the victim sought spiritual advice, comfort, or aid from the offender in private, it will be a fourth-degree of criminal sexual conduct. The sexual conduct could also have occurred with a clergyman during an ongoing basis in which the victim receives religious or spiritual advice, comfort, or aid in private. Consent cannot be used as a means of defense with this charge.

  • The offender is an employee, volunteer of the city, state, county, or independent contractor of a:

  • Privately operated juvenile or the adult correctional system

  • Secure treatment facility

  • Treatment facility providing services to clients committed as mentally dangerous or ill, sexually dangerous, psychopathic sexual personality

  • Prisons

  • Jails

  • Detention centers

  • Work release facilities

  • A resident of a facility or is under the supervision of a correctional system

The consent of the alleged victim is not allowed as a defense for this charge.

  • The offender performs bodywork for hire such as massages, and they use this service to conduct nonconsensual sexual acts either during or before the services are performed

  • The offender is an agent of an entity that provides specialized transportation services but is not married to the alleged victim, and the sexual conduct occurred immediately before or during the provided transport services. Consent is not a defense with this charge.

  • The offender is a peace officer and physically restrains the alleged victim or makes the victim feel as though they are not free to leave that officer’s presence. Consent is not an allowed defense with this charge.

A conviction of criminal sexual conduct in the fourth degree carries a penalty up to ten years in prison, along with a possible fine of $20,000.

Criminal Sexual Conduct - Fifth Degree

Under the laws of Minnesota, criminal sexual conduct in the fifth degree is described as:

  • An offender who engages in nonconsensual sexual conduct or

  • An offender who engages in lewd exhibition or masturbation while in the presence of a minor (under the age of 16) and has reason to believe or know the minor is in their presence

  • The attempted removal or intentional removal of clothing covering the alleged victim’s private parts and the non consensual touching by the offender of the victim’s private parts, when the action is done with aggressive, sexual intent.

If convicted of criminal sexual conduct in the fifth degree and as a gross misdemeanor, you can be sentenced with a one-year prison term and fines up to $3,000. Typically a first-time offender is charged as the gross misdemeanor offense.

If convicted with a fifth-degree and charged as a felony, you would face up to seven years in prison and a fine up to $14,000. Typically a fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct in the fifth degree is charged as a felony if the offender has a previous fifth-degree conviction on their file.

Criminal sexual conduct charges are some of the most serious crimes in Minnesota. Not only are the convicted facing lengthy prison sentences, but registration requirements are also triggered for being listed on the sex offender registration list as well.

It is essential that you have an experienced criminal defense attorney working with you through this difficult legal process. Witness testimony, the out-of-court statements of alleged victims, as well as any prior sexual history if it exists, is hard to navigate, and it takes a knowledgeable attorney in Minnesota law to help you through this process. Ringstrom Law has the expertise it will take to defend these charges.

What Happens When Convicted of Criminal Sexual Conduct in the State of Minnesota

It is an extremely frightening experience to be arrested by the police for a sexual conduct offense. It would be even more terrifying to be convicted of this charge. In Minnesota, there are five levels of criminal sexual conduct which have been defined above. Each of these levels carries possible prison time as well as significant fines.

The first and third-degree charges normally involve sexual penetration, most often with a minor involved, and the second, fourth, and fifth degrees involve sexual contact. First degree through fourth degree are charged as felonies; however, the fifth degree is normally charged as a gross misdemeanor. It is possible to be charged with one or more offenses, which are classified with different or the same degree.

The maximum sentencing and fines for each degree of criminal sexual conduct for first-time offenders would be:

  • Level one or First Degree is a 30-year prison sentence with possible fines up to $40,000

  • Level two of Second Degree is a 25-year prison sentence with a possible fine up to $35,000

  • Level three or Third Degree is a 15-year prison sentence with a possible fine up to $30,000

  • Level four or Fourth Degree is a 10-year prison sentence with a possible fine up to $20,000

  • Lebel five or Fifth Degree is a one year of prison time and a possible fine up to $3,000

The prosecution is able to allege there are aggravating factors in your case which can include:

  • claims of the victim being underage (Minnesota’s age of consent is 16 years of age)

  • You threatened physical harm to the victim

  • There was a dangerous weapon present during the sexual act

  • There was a presence of an accomplice during the sexual act

  • You are in a familial relationship with the victim

  • You are in a position of authority over the victim

If convicted of level one or level two criminal sexual conduct, and the prosecution can prove any of these aggravating factors, the courts may deliver an undetermined life sentence or life without parole prison sentence.

Offenders of criminal sexual conduct in Minnesota, when convicted, are required to submit specific assessments prior to their sentencing. The offender is assessed through an independent professional who will decide if they are in need of treatment to cure their sexual problems.

The required assessments are sometimes waived if your sentencing includes a conditional prison sentence, or if you’ve had an evaluation prior to your conviction. If one is a repeat offender, you would be subject to a mandatory assessment at a Minnesota security hospital. If you have not been sentenced with a prison term, the courts often ask that you obtain treatment as part of the sentencing.

There are certain requirements for criminal sexual conduct convictions outside of the prison sentences and fines that must be paid. These requirements include:

  • Offenders to provide a biological DNA sample to be filed on their records

  • Registering with the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), which you have to stay on for ten years

  • Having a risk level attached to your name which requires law enforcement to notify specific organizations and individuals in your community where you live, go to school, and work about your criminal sexual conviction

Being convicted of criminal sexual conduct has significant consequences. You need to contact an attorney as soon as possible if arrested for a sexual crime in Minnesota. Your attorney will need to know everything about the event and the persons involved in order to mount a successful defense for you. This information will help them to protect you from a lengthy prison sentence, substantial fines, and even a ruined reputation that will severely impact your future.

Where Can I Find a Criminal Sexual Conduct Attorney Near Me?

Criminal sexual conduct charges have a significant negative impact on your future. You will want a criminal defense attorney working with you as soon as you have been arrested, so that a successful defense strategy can be initiated. Contact Ringstrom Law in Moorhead at 218-284-0484 today and discuss your case so we can implement a plan for your defense into action immediately

MN criminal defense attorneys Bruce Ringstrom Jr. & Bruce Ringstrom Sr.

Bruce Ringstrom Jr. & Bruce Ringstrom Sr.

Criminal Defense Attorneys in MN & ND

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  • Minnesota Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • MSBA: Minnesota State Bar Association
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • State Bar Association of North Dakota

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