Did You Know That Criminal Sexual Conduct Has 5 Degrees in MN?

In Minnesota, as in many other states, criminal sexual conduct isn’t simply one crime. It’s a group of crimes broken into several degrees. In the state, there are actually five degrees of criminal sexual conduct, each with its own penalties.

What a person may be charged with depends on several factors, including the circumstances surrounding the case, the allegations against them, the evidence that supports allegations, and any prior history of criminal sexual conduct.

What is criminal sexual conduct in Minnesota and what are the degrees? Read on to find out more about these sex crimes.

Criminal Sexual Conduct in Minnesota

Criminal sexual conduct is a legal term that encompasses many different acts. A person can be accused of criminal sexual conduct if they have sexual contact with a minor or vulnerable adult, if they rape another person, or participate in other non-consensual sexual acts.

The Degrees of Criminal Sexual Conduct

There are five levels of criminal sexual conduct in Minnesota, they are:

Fifth Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct

This is often charged when non-consensual sexual contact and lewd exhibition occur – or masturbation of genitals in the presence of a minor.

For a first offense, this is considered a gross misdemeanor. If there are prior convictions involving criminal sexual conduct in the fifth degree, it can be charged as a felony.

This level of offense is punishable by up to one year in prison.

Fourth Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct

Criminal sexual conduct in the fourth degree can be charged for the acts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct, but it doesn’t require sexual penetration.

This degree of offense requires the convicted person to register as a sex offender. The registered status can last up to 10 years after release from prison. The prison sentence can be for as many as 10 years.

Third Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct

This is charged in circumstances where statutory rape occurs, sexual penetration of a minor by another minor or an adult close in age, or sexual penetration by someone in a position of authority over the victim.

The penalties associated with this degree of offense include as many as 15 years in prison.

Second Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct

This level involves many of the same circumstances as first-degree criminal sexual conduct, but it often involves sexual contact with penetration.

This degree of offense is punishable by as many as 25 years in prison, plus the requirement to register as a sex offender for life.

First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct

The most serious degree of criminal sexual conduct in Minnesota, this level of offense involves acts such as:

  • Sexual contact with a minor between the ages of 13 and 16 by someone in a position of authority – or someone who is at least four years older
  • Sexual penetration that involves violence or the threat of force
  • Sexual contact with someone under the age of 13
  • Sexual penetration of a person who is physically helpless or mentally impaired

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The penalties for this level of offense are up to 30 years in prison, along with the requirement to register as a sex offender for life.

Being charged with criminal sexual conduct, no matter the degree, is serious.

It is a crime that, if found guilty, can impact the rest of your life. It can make it difficult to secure housing or employment, and it will remain on your criminal record. That’s why it’s vital to understand your rights  and the case against you if you are charged with this crime.


About the Author:

Andrew T. Poole is a Minnesota native who has served in the Army for more than 18 years and is currently a JAG lawyer in the Army Reserves in addition to serving as a partner at LaCourse, Poole & Envall. He has handled thousands of criminal and family law cases over the course of his career and has a firm belief that all hardworking Minnesotans should be entitled to the best possible legal counsel. Mr. Poole boasts a 10/10 Superb rating on Avvo, is Lead Counsel rated, and has been recognized multiple times by SuperLawyers, National Trial Lawyers, and others for his work.