Sex Laws | Minnesota Criminal Sexual Conduct Statutes

Sex crime cases in Minnesota, are normally based upon Minnesota Statutes (and rarely, local ordinances).  And most prosecutions are under Minnesota Criminal Sexual Conduct Statues.  Here is an overview of them.

Due process requires notice of forbidden conduct.  Without it, a person is not criminally responsible.  Today, we give this notice in a statute (or local equivalent, such as an ordinance).

The National Registry of Exonerations 1989-2012, including data for 305 wrongful sex offender convictions.
National Registry of Exonerations 1989-2012, including 305 wrongful sex offender convictions.

Of course this is based upon a legal fiction – that people read statutes, and know what they contain.

But, though most people may not know what’s in them, since statutes are available to the public, they could know.  In the information age, this has become more true.

Minnesota Statutes are available at the Minnesota Legislature’s website, along with administrative rules (“Minnesota Rules”) that govern executive branch state agencies, and the Minnesota Constitution.

Most sex crime statutes, including Criminal Sexual Conduct, are in Chapter 609 of Minnesota Statutes.

Statutes may give words special meanings, sometimes different from commonly understood meanings.  Many Chapters and Sections of Minnesota Statutes contain definitions applicable to certain other statutory sections, such as Section 609.341.

Minnesota Criminal Sexual Conduct Statutes

The most commonly charged felony sex crimes are announced in Sections  609.342 through 609.3451.  They are called “Criminal Sexual Conduct in the ____ degree,” where the blank would be filled in with first through fifth degrees (first degree being the most severe penalty).

Severity factors

What factors make a felony crime more severe in terms of punishment if convicted?  The main ones are:

Proximity of sexual conduct:

  • Minneapolis Defense Attorney Thomas Gallagher explains Minnesota Criminal Sexual Conduct Statutes
    Minneapolis Defense Attorney Thomas Gallagher explains Minnesota Criminal Sexual Conduct Statutes


  • sexual contact; or
  • non-touch.

Coercion vs. consent:

  • Fear of imminent great bodily harm
  • “Dangerous weapon”
  • Personal injury
  • Use of Force or Coercion
  • Vulnerable complainant (mentally or physically)
  • One or more accomplices

Abuse of trust:

  • Use of Professional or Occupational Status (psychotherapist, physician, clergy, government or correctional employee or agent, massage or physical therapist, etc.).
  • “Position of Authority” enhances criminal sexual conduct.

Incest and forbidden relationships:

  • “Significant relationship” to the complainant

Arbitrary age limits:

  • Age of Complainant, and age of consent;
  • Age Difference.

Prior convictions:

  • Mandatory minimum sentencing provisions, based on prior sex-related conviction(s).

These are the most common factors in Minnesota Criminal Sexual Conduct Statutes.

Other sex-related Minnesota criminal laws

Other commonly charged sex-related crimes and statutes include:


Minnesota Statutes §609.321 through §609.325 relate to prostitution crimes.  And most prostitution charges in the Twin Cities area are against alleged customers of adult prostitutes.  Usually these stem from police sting traps, under Minnesota Statutes §609.324, subds. 2 and 3.  If in a public place the crime is a Gross Misdemeanor (up to one year jail) under subd. 2; while otherwise the crime is a simple misdemeanor (up to 90 days jail).

Recently police tactics have become abusive – publishing names and photos of accused people on the internet, upon unproven claims only.  Another abuse is asset forfeitures of cars, based upon claims of prostitution crime in cars.

Attorney Thomas Gallagher defends people from prostitution charges.

Indecent Conduct or Exposure

Prosecutors can charge indecent conduct crimes under several laws and in several fact patterns.  And Attorney Thomas Gallagher defends people from indecent conduct or exposure charges.

Voluntary defenses

Minnesota Statutes §609.349 “Voluntary Relationships” states that “A person does not commit criminal sexual conduct under” specified sections of the criminal sexual conduct statutes

“if the actor and complainant were adults cohabiting in an ongoing voluntary sexual relationship at the time of the alleged offense, or if the complainant is the actor’s legal spouse, unless the couple is living apart and one of them has filed for legal separation or dissolution of the marriage.”

This statute may afford a defense to a claim that sexual contact or other sexual activity was without consent.

Statute of Limitations for sex crimes

Prosecutors rarely charge people where the limitations period bars prosecution.  But if they do, we can assert the defense.  Limitations periods for sex crimes in Minnesota are long.  And this increases the risk that innocent people will wrongly face charges.

Limitations periods vary from three years on the low-end to no limitations period at all on the high-end.

Factors that affect the statute of limitations period:

  • evidence preserved is capable of DNA testing
  • Victim under age 18
  • date of report to police
  • criminal statute applicable to claim

No statute of limitations.  First, second, or third degree Criminal Sexual Conduct or sex trafficking; if physical evidence preserved is capable of DNA testing,

Nine years after date of offense, or three years after report to police, whichever is later.  First, second, third, or fourth degree Criminal Sexual Conduct or sex trafficking under age 18; if evidence is not capable of DNA testing.

Nine years after date of offense.  First, second, or third degree Criminal Sexual Conduct or sex trafficking 18 years old or older; if evidence is not capable of DNA  testing.

For details and exceptions, see Minnesota’s main criminal statute of limitations, Minnesota Statutes §628.26, subds. e, f, k, l, m.  Or call Minneapolis Criminal Sexual Conduct Attorney Thomas Gallagher.

Sex Offender Registration

Or, now broadened, and labeled “predatory offender” registration.  Minnesota Statutes §243.166 has most of the important provisions.

When is failure to register as a predator offender required in Minnesota?

  1. The criminal Complaint had charges that trigger registration; and,
  2. A conviction of any crime stemming from the same behavioral conduct.

For example, the prosecutor’s Complaint charges you with Minnesota Criminal Sexual Conduct Third Degree.  But the jury brings a verdict of not-guilty on that charge, but guilty of disorderly conduct.  Even though Minnesota’s disorderly conduct crime does not trigger a predatory offender registration requirement, you still do have to register.  An unfair law, best avoided.

Failure to register is a crime – see Minnesota Statutes §243.166, subd. 5.  And the registration period is at least ten years, usually much longer – see Minnesota Statutes §243.166, subd. 6.  The law requires children to register as well.  Go here for more on juvenile sex crime defense.

Minneapolis Criminal Sexual Conduct Attorney logo

If facing criminal sexual conduct or other sex crime charges, you need the best defense.  Minneapolis sex crimes defense attorney Thomas Gallagher can provide it.

Thomas Gallagher has three decades experience in sex crimes defense.  He’s best lawyer rated under peer reviews, and consumer five-star reviews.  Thomas Gallagher has taught many criminal defense law courses to other lawyers.  And other lawyers consult with him often for help with their cases.

Don’t you deserve the best?

Question?  You can call Minneapolis Criminal Sexual Conduct Defense Attorney Thomas Gallagher at 612 333-1500.