The Line Between Romantic Relationships and Statutory Rape in MN
When people think of statutory rape, they often think of young children being lured into unsafe situations by adults. That isn’t always the case.
It doesn’t happen with great frequency, but some high school teachers in Minnesota may be having sex with older students – legally. That’s because once a child turns 18 they are legally an adult and can consent to sexual relationships lawfully.
That may all soon change, however, due to two bills working their way through the state legislature. Each proposes to make it illegal for anyone in a position of authority at a high school to have sex with a student under the age of 21.
If these new laws pass, then those who have sex with students can be charged with criminal sexual conduct, sometimes referred to as statutory rape. Learn more about the laws surrounding statutory rape in Minnesota now.
Statutory Rape in Minnesota
In the state of Minnesota, the legal age of consent is 16. However, this age changes to 18 when the sexual relationship includes someone in a position of authority over the person they are intimately involved with or has some other trusting relationship with them.
While sexual relations between a child under the age of consent and an adult is understood by most people to be statutory rape, the law regards it as criminal sexual conduct. How severe the charges depend on the age of the person being charged as well as the age of the victim.
The Degrees of Criminal Sexual Conduct
As mentioned, the degree with which someone is charged depends on their age and the age of the victim as well as what took place between them. There are generally four degrees of criminal sexual conduct in these cases.
Fourth Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct
This is charged when there is sexual contact but not penetration and when the person charged was more than three years older than a victim age 13 or under or was with a victim age 13 or older but was not yet 16 and the defendant was at least four years older.
Third Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct
Being charged with this crime means that there was sexual penetration and not just sexual contact between the parties with the same age differences as fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct.
Second Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct
For this charge, the state is not required to prove that penetration occurred, only sexual contact. The difference with this charge is that the victim must be at least 13 but not yet 16 and the defendant is no more than four years older than they are but also in a position of authority over them. A person can also be charged if the victim is under 16 but the defendant has a significant relationship with them.
First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct
This is often charged when it can be shown that sexual penetration occurred between the victim and defendant if the victim is over 13. You can be convicted of this degree if you engage in sexual contact or penetration with someone under the age of 13 or a victim is over 13 but not yet 16 and is in a position of authority.
Prison time is a consequence of any of the sexual conduct charges, but an offender may also be required to register as a sex offender in the state if they are found guilty of the charges. They may also lose the right to possess a firearm since criminal sexual misconduct is a crime of violence.
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.