Can You Be Accused of Sexual Assault Years Later?
Unlike many other states, Minnesota presently does not necessarily have a strict statute of limitations for sexual assault cases. In other words, it is possible to be arrested and charged with a sexual assault many years after the crime was allegedly committed. Most sexual assaults are prosecuted as felonies, and those convicted often face severe consequences for the rest of their lives.
If you are under investigation for sexual assault in Minnesota, the stakes are too high to go without a dependable and experienced criminal defense attorney. Your attorney will conduct a full investigation into your case to craft the best possible defense for the charges you face.
Degrees of Sexual Assault in Minnesota
Sexual assault is a term that refers to a broad range of crimes. You may be charged with different degrees of assault depending on the severity of the crime. The following are the five degrees of assault in Minnesota:
Fifth Degree Sexual Assault
Sexual assault in the fifth degree is a misdemeanor and the least severe of the five degrees. Individuals may be charged with fifth-degree sexual assault for a non-consensual sexual act or exposing themselves to a child. If it is the individual’s first offense, they may be sentenced to up to one year in prison and a fine of $3,000. A repeat offender may face a felony conviction that carries a prison sentence of up to 7 years and a fine of $14,000.
Fourth Degree Sexual Assault
Fourth-degree sexual assault is charged for crimes involving a non-consensual, non-penetrative, sexual act. Those convicted of this felony-level offense may face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $20,000.
Third Degree Sexual Assault
Sexual assault in the third degree occurs when a person commits a non-consensual sexual act involving penetration, and one of the following factors are present:
- The victim was under the age of 13
- The victim was between the ages of 13 and 15, and the defendant is at least two years older than the victim
- The defendant used coercion or force
- The victim was known to be physically or mentally incapacitated
Convicted individuals may face up to 15 years behind bars and a $30,000 fine.
Second Degree Sexual Assault
A sexual assault in the second degree takes place when an individual has non-consensual sexual contact with a victim, and at least one of the following factors is present:
- The victim is between the ages of 13 and 16, and the defendant is at least four years older and is an authority figure to the victim
- A dangerous weapon was present
- The victim is under the age of 16 and has a familial or other significant relationship with the defendant
- The victim is under the age of 13, and the defendant is at least three years older
- The victim suffered a physical injury due to the assault
- Another individual coerced the victim into sexual contact with the defendant
- The victim feared being bodily harmed
If convicted, the defendant may face up to 25 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
First Degree Sexual Assault
First-degree sexual assault is the most severe sexual assault charge a person can face in Minnesota. A sexual assault in the first degree occurs if the defendant engaged in a non-consensual, penetrative sexual act, and one or more of the factors for second-degree sexual assault is present. Those convinced may be sentenced to up to 30 years behind bars and a fine of $40,000.
How Can a Criminal Defense Attorney Help Those Accused of Sexual Assault Years Later
While a person can be charged with sexual assault an unlimited number of years after the crime took place, proving guilt can be more difficult as time passes. Evidence may be lost or destroyed over time, and witnesses may move away or forget what exactly they saw. The prosecution must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to achieve a conviction. A skilled criminal defense attorney can help erode the prosecutor’s case by:
- Conducting a full investigation into your case
- Interviewing witnesses
- Collecting evidence
- Advocating on your behalf before and during trial
- Being your confidant and guide through this stressful time
A sexual assault conviction could negatively impact the rest of your life. Instead of leaving your case to chance, hire a sexual assault attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights and interests.
Speak to a Highly Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney at Knutson + Casey
The skilled attorneys at Knutson + Casey have 30 years of experience protecting the rights of the accused across Southern Minnesota. We pride ourselves on combining big firm power with a personalized approach to every case to ensure each of our client’s unique needs are met. To get started and schedule a free consultation with a member of our unparalleled legal team, give us a call at (507) 344-8888 or complete our contact form today.