Minnesota Has No Statute of Limitations for Sexual Assault
Sexual assault doesn’t always happen like it’s portrayed in movies and on television. Sometimes, victims don’t come forward for years, for a variety of reasons. Until recently, many survivors of sexual assault missed the window to bring charges against those who assaulted them, but that has now changed.
A new law has made it possible for victims of sexual assault to report their assault and have it prosecuted any time after it occurred. Previously, Minnesota residents had only a few years to take action with the exception of those who were children at the time of the assault. Now, anyone who commits sexual assault in Minnesota can be prosecuted for it – at any point in their lives.
Here’s what you need to know about new sexual assault laws in Minnesota, including what can be faced by someone who commits sexual assault in the state now that a statute of limitations no longer exists.
Sexual Assault in Minnesota
Under Minnesota law, sexual assault is considered criminal sexual conduct. Criminal sexual conduct is defined in different degrees, which include:
First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct
This degree of criminal sexual conduct occurs when the perpetrator sexually penetrates the victim themselves or with an object. This degree can also be charged in cases where the defendant is under the age of 13, and someone makes sexual contact with them, such as intentional touching of their sexual parts with aggressive or sexual intent.
Other degrees of criminal sexual conduct can be raised to a first degree if certain aggravating factors are present, such as:
- The victim being put in reasonable fear for their safety
- The use of a weapon by the defendant in the commission of the crime
- A defendant that was helped by another in order to make the victim comply
The penalty for first-degree criminal sexual conduct is up to 30 years in prison and fines of up to $40,000. There is a mandatory minimum sentence imposed of 12 years for this crime, and release from prison is conditional.
Second Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct
This degree of criminal sexual conduct takes place when the victim’s private parts are intentionally touched – even over the clothing – in similar circumstances described in the first-degree category. It can send a defendant to prison for up to 25 years and require them to pay fines of as much as $35,000. There is also a minimum sentence that must be imposed under the law of seven years.
Third Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct
This degree of criminal sexual conduct takes place when sexual penetration of a victim under the age of 13 is made by a perpetrator who is at least three years older than they are. If the victim is between the ages of 13 and 15 with a perpetrator who is between two and ten years older, then this level of offense can also be charged.
Third-degree criminal sexual conduct also applies to situations where the victim is mentally or physically incapacitated, or the defendant uses coercion or force to commit the crime. It also applies to situations where the perpetrator is in a position of trust over the victim, i.e. a therapist, teacher, or clergy member.
The maximum penalty for third-degree criminal sexual conduct is 15 years in a penitentiary and fines of as much as $30,000.
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.