Sex crimes are thought of as some of the most heinous offenses that can be committed, but often the statutes that describe these crimes can be confusing. This is particularly true when it comes to the crime of criminal sexual conduct in the state of Minnesota, listed in the state revisor. If you’re worried about your personal conduct, or that of someone you know, here’s the basics of the law broken down for you.
Understanding The Statute
The purpose of the criminal sexual conduct law is to prevent two types of behavior. The first is preventing sexual conduct when one partner is under a certain age, and the other is preventing sexual conduct when there is force, the threat of force, or when someone is being taken advantage of.
The details are fairly involved, so let’s start with the age of participants.
According to the statute, this law is broken if the complaintant is under 13 years of age at the time sexual contact occurs, and the actor is more than 36 months older than the complaintant. The law is also broken if the complaintant is older than 13, but less than 16, years old, and the actor is more than 48 months older than the complaintant. Now, in neither of these circumstances is consent from the underaged party, or a claim that the older partner mistook their age, a viable defense in court.
In addition to the complaintant’s age, there are other circumstances that can lead to a charge of criminal sexual conduct.
If the complaintant has a fear of bodily harm at the time of the act, the statute is also broken. If the actor has a deadly weapon, or an item that could reasonably be believed to be a deadly weapon, and threatens the complaintant with it, that also breaks the law. Put in plainer language, if someone is threatened into sex, then that act constitutes criminal sexual conduct.
If the complaintant is injured during sexual conduct, and the actor knows either that the complaintant is impaired in some way, or uses force to complete the sexual act, that also violates the law. Which means that if someone is intoxicated, tied up, unconscious, or otherwise unable to consent, or if you force yourself on someone (or both), you’ve broken this law. If you have an accomplice, and the accomplice uses force or threats against the complaintant, then you have still broken the law. So even if you, personally, did not use threats or force, you’re still guilty if you participate in a situation where someone else uses those things to make someone participate in a sexual act.
There is one more consideration when it comes to criminal sexual conduct, and that’s whether or not the actor had a significant relationship to the complaintant. Now, if you have a significant relationship with someone under Minnesota law, that means you’re someone’s parent, stepparent, or guardian, that you are related to them by blood, or that you are an adult who resides in the same place as the complaintant, and who is not their spouse. If you have a significant relationship with someone, then they cannot be under the age of 16 when you have sexual contact. If they are, then the statute is broken. It is also broken if any of the aforementioned circumstances (an accomplice, threats, use of force, etc.) are employed.
The most important thing to remember here is that any one of these circumstances breaks the law. Which is why it’s important to make sure none of these boxes could be checked off when you talk about your Saturday night plans.
For more information on criminal sexual conduct laws in Minnesota, simply contact us today!
The information presented in this article is not considered legal advice. Please contact our law office to speak to an attorney about your case.