Understanding Minnesota’s sex crimes and consequences

People who are accused of sex crimes in Minnesota should have an understanding of the different crime designations and their associated penalties. The state's laws are clearly outlined in this area and include not only original charges and consequences but ongoing participation in the Minnesota Sex Offender Program.

What are the different sex crimes in Minnesota?

The state of Minnesota identifies five distinct levels of sex crimes. Each has its own unique set of minimum and maximum penalties. Details of these are as followed, per the Minnesota state legislature:

  • First degree criminal sexual conduct is charged for acts involving sexual penetration or some sexual contact with persons under the age of 13. People convicted of a first degree offense can face between 12 and 30 years in prison and fines up to $40,000.
  • Third degree criminal sexual conduct is the only other charge that relates to actual penetration. Prison sentences for these convictions range between three and 15 years with fines up to $30,000.
  • Second, fourth and fifth degree criminal sexual conduct charges all pertain to sexual contact or lewd conduct but without sexual penetration. Second degree convictions can result in three to 25 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.
  • For fourth degree convictions, some penalties can include stayed prison sentences but actual time served can be up to 10 years. Fines can be up to $20,000.
  • Fifth degree sexual conduct convictions can also have stayed sentences or actual prison time ordered up to one year for gross misdemeanor charges or up to five years for repeat offenses. Fines can range but be as high as $10,000.

Persons who violate any terms of their sentences can face additional charges. The Northland News Center recently reported on a story in which a Rice man was found guilty of violating his parole terms and now will spend an additional 30 years in jail.

Some defendants will also be ordered to receive sex offender treatment. For these persons, participation in the Minnesota Sex Offender Program will be included and typically happens near the end of jail sentences.

How does the MSOP work?

The MSOP is the official state program designed to help rehabilitate persons convicted of sex crimes. Defendants can petition the state Supreme Court Appeal Panel for discharge from the MSOP for a move into the reintegration process formally known as the Community Preparation Services. The Minnesota Department of Human Services indicates that 26 people to date have successfully made this transition.

A Star Tribune article noted that a defendant's move to the CPS program can be hampered by allegations not directly related to an original conviction. The decision to move one man to the CPS program in 2013 has recently been reversed based upon new accusations that had never been heard before.

Legal help is important

Whether fighting an initial charge or entering into an appeal process, people who are accused of sex crimes should always seek legal help. An experienced private attorney can be the best way to receive a proper criminal defense.