Can a Minnesota Sex Crime Be Expunged From Your Record?
For many in Minnesota who have been convicted of a crime, a fresh start sounds like a great idea. The law recognizes this, which is why some crimes can be expunged from your record in the state under certain circumstances.
However, there are some crimes that can never be expunged from your record in Minnesota, including sex crimes. That’s why a robust defense against sex crimes charges is always the best option, so a conviction doesn’t follow you around for the rest of your life.
Here’s what you need to know about sex crimes in Minnesota, possible penalties, and crimes that can be expunged in our state.
What Is a Sex Crime in Minnesota?
Here in Minnesota, sex crimes such as sexual assault are considered crimes of criminal sexual conduct. There are five degrees of criminal sexual conduct:
First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct
This is defined as sexual penetration by a person or with an object. It is often filed in cases where a person has sex with someone under the age of 13, including any intentional touching with sexual intent.
You can also be charged with this degree of sexual conduct if it is perpetrated against someone between the ages of 13 and 16 when the defendant is at least four years older, as well as with someone in a position of authority over the victim. If the victim is physically helpless or mentally unstable, then this level of crime will also be charged.
Aggravating factors can also be present that will elevate the offense to a first-degree charge. These include if the victim is in fear of harm or if a weapon is used in the commission of the crime.
Second Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct
Second-degree sex crimes in Minnesota include the same circumstances as first-degree criminal sexual conduct except that there was no sexual penetration, only sexual contact.
Third Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct
This degree of criminal sexual conduct includes crimes such as statutory rape. This is the sexual penetration of a minor by a defendant who is also a minor or by an adult close to the victim’s age.
This level of crime also applies in cases where there is sexual penetration by someone in a position of authority, such as an officer, therapist, or member of the clergy.
Fourth Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct
The biggest difference between third- and fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct is sexual penetration. Fourth-degree charges may involve similar acts as third-degree, but with only sexual contact between the parties and no sexual penetration.
Fifth Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct
This level of crime involves any type of sexual interaction that is not consensual. It can include showing your genitalia to someone under the age of 16 or masturbation in public, as well as non-consensual touching that is done with malicious intent.
Penalties for Sex Crimes in Minnesota
The penalty for criminal sexual conduct depends on the level that a person is convicted of. The levels and penalties are:
- First-degree – Up to 30 years incarceration and $40,000 in fines.
- Second-degree – As many as 25 years in prison and fines of $35,000.
- Third-degree – Incarceration for as many as 15 years and fines of as much as $30,000.
- Fourth-degree – Up to 10 years behind bars and fines of as much as $20,000.
- Fifth-degree – First-time offenders may only get one year in prison and be fined $3,000, but repeat offenders can face seven years imprisonment and fines of $14,000.
How Does Minnesota Define Expungement?
Expungement does not mean that your criminal record is destroyed. What it does mean is that the record cannot be viewed by the public — in effect sealing it from public view.
That means that when you apply for a job or for housing and someone does a background check on you, the expunged record will not show up on the background check.
Sex Crimes in Minnesota are Not Eligible For Expungement
Some criminal offenses in Minnesota are not eligible for expungement. This includes murder, domestic violence, aggravated assault, and sex crimes.
They will remain on your criminal history for the rest of your life unless an appeal by a defendant results in a new trial that alters the outcome of the case.
What Crimes Can Be Expunged in Minnesota?
There are several types of crimes that are eligible for expungement in Minnesota. They include:
- Any case where someone is found not guilty in court
- Any case where the charges are dismissed
- Any case where a court diversion program was completed
- Any case where the court entered a stay of adjudication or imposition
It’s best to consult with an attorney to find out if your circumstance is one that makes you eligible for expungement.
About the Author:
A former Assistant Public Defender for the Sixth Judicial District in Duluth and former staff attorney for the Indian Legal Assistance Program, Brent R. Olson is an experienced trial lawyer who has appeared in every Courthouse in the Sixth Judicial District and taken over three dozen cases to verdict. At LaCourse, Poole & Envall, Mr. Envall focuses on family law, workers’ compensation, and criminal defense. He has a strong belief in restorative justice and helped to develop the Domestic Violence Restorative Circles program.