What are the Degrees of Sexual Assault and Punishments in Minnesota?

Many people do not realize that there are various types of sexual assaults that can take place. The term “sexual assault” is broad and can mean different things. The type of charge a person faces depends on the circumstances of the crime that was allegedly committed. In Minnesota, sexual assault is usually a felony or a gross misdemeanor charge.

The penalties for these charges depends on the level of the crime committed. In Minnesota, sexual assault is termed “criminal sexual conduct.”

The levels of criminal sexual conduct

There are five degrees of criminal sexual conduct in Minnesota. Four of them are felony charges, and one is a misdemeanor.

First-degree sexual assault

First-degree sexual assault: This level of assault is defined as sexual penetration and the presence of at least one of the following conditions:

  • A dangerous weapon
  • The victim is younger than 13, and the defendant is at least three years older
  • The defendant is in a position of authority; the victim is 13 to 16 years of age and the defendant is at least four years older
  • The victim had a fear of bodily harm
  • There was a physical injury due to the assault
  • The defendant is helped by another person to make the victim submit
  • The defendant has a significant relationship with the victim (relative or adult who lives in the house), and the victim is under 16 at the time of the assault

A conviction of first-degree sexual assault can result n up to 30 years in prison and a $40,000 fine. The defendant will be required to register as a sex offender, which will have lifelong consequences concerning housing, employment, and education.

Second-degree sexual assault

Second-degree sexual assault: This involves engaging in sexual contact with the victim under the same circumstances listed above, with the exception being that no penetration occurred. This can include touching the victim’s intimate areas, touch another’s intimate parts by coercion, and touching over clothes.

This is a felony offense punishable by up to 25 years in prison and a fine of $35,000. The minimum sentence is 7.5 years in prison.

Third-degree sexual assault

Third-degree sexual assault: this involves sexual penetration under the following circumstances:

  • The victim is under 13 years of age, and the defendant is no more than three years older
  • The victim is 13-15 years old, and the defendant is more than two years older but no more than ten years older
  • The defendant uses force or coercion to penetrate the victim
  • The defendant knows the victim is mentally or physically incapacitated

This is a felony offense punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine of $30,000. If the victim is 13-15 and the defendant was not more than four years older but more than two years older, the maximum punishment is 5 years in prison.

Fourth-degree sexual assault

Fourth-degree sexual assault: This includes the same requirement as third-degree sexual assault, but without penetration. This is a felony offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $20,000.

Fifth-degree sexual assault

Fifth-degree sexual assault: This includes engaging in nonconsensual sexual contact or knowingly masturbating or exposing one’s genitals in the presence of a child under 16 years of age. The punishment misdemeanor offense is up to one year of imprisonment and a fine of up to $3,000. If the defendant has a prior conviction, this could become a felony offense punishable by up to 7 years in prison and a fine of up to $14,000.