Minnesota Criminal Sexual Conduct Statutes | Minnesota Sex Laws

Sex-related criminal cases prosecuted in Minnesota State Court, are normally based upon Minnesota Statutes (and rarely, local ordinances).  A basic principle of criminal law is that a person can fairly be held accountable for violating a criminal law, only if the person has first been put on notice of the forbidden conduct in a statute (or local equivalent, such as an ordinance).

Of course this is based upon what is largely a legal fiction – that individuals read statutes, and know what they contain.  The answer given to that concern is that, though most people may not know what the statutes say, since they 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, though not all, sex crime-related statutes are contained in Chapter 609 of Minnesota Statutes.  Certain words defined by statute may be given special meanings, sometimes different from commonly understood meanings.  Many Chapters and Sections of Minnesota Statutes contain definitions applicable to certain other statutory sections, for example Section 609.341.

Minnesota Criminal Sexual Conduct Statutes
The most commonly charged felony sex crimes are announced in Sections  609.342 through 609.3451, and 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).

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

  • Sexual conduct (penetration vs sexual contact)
  • Age of Complainant, Age Difference, and age of consent
  • “Position of Authority”
  • Fear of imminent great bodily harm
  • “Dangerous weapon”
  • Personal injury
  • Use of Force or Coercion
  • Vulnerable complainant (mentally or physically)
  • One or more accomplices
  • “Significant relationship” to the complainant
  • Multiple acts over an extended period of time
  • Use of Professional or Occupational Status (psychotherapist, physician, clergy, government or correctional employee or agent, massage or physical therapist, etc.)
  • Mandatory minimum sentencing provisions, based on prior sex-related conviction(s)

Other commonly charged sex-related crimes and statutes include:

Prostitution.  Minnesota Statutes §609.321 through §609.325 relate to prostitution crimes.  The most commonly charged prostitution crimes in the Twin Cities area are those against alleged would-be customers of prostitutes aged 18 or older, as a result of 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).  In recent years law enforcement tactics have become particularly abusive by publishing names and photos of accused people on the internet, based upon unproven claims only.  Another abuse is asset forfeitures of cars, based upon claimed prostitution crimes in cars.

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.

Sex Offender Registration.  Or, now broadened and labeled “predatory offender” registration.  Most of the important provisions can be found at Minnesota Statutes §243.166.  If charged with most sex crimes (listed) and convicted of any crime, including a non-registration crime, then the person convicted is required to register under this statute.  If the person fails to do so, this is made a crime – see Minnesota Statutes §243.166, subd. 5.  The registration period is at least ten years, usually much longer – see Minnesota Statutes §243.166, subd. 6.  Even juveniles are affected.