On January 28th, a three-judge panel of the Minnesota Court of Appeals expanded on the existing criminal sexual conduct law. The change addressed what constitutes a “substantial step” toward committing the crime. Specifically, the use of social media and electronic communications were considered as cause for change to the current laws. The law defines a “substantial step” as follows:
A person attempts to commit a crime when, with intent, he “does an act which is a substantial step toward, and more than preparation for, the commission of the crime.” Minn. Stat. § 609.17, subd. 1.
The appeal involved the case of Brian James Wilkie who was accused of setting up a meeting with a 14-year old boy for the express purpose of having sex. The boy was actually a decoy set up by law enforcement. Wilkie had numerous conversations with the decoy and engaged in phone text messages and communications through social media accounts. Wilkie repeatedly asked that the decoy send nude pics and pressed the “boy” for an in-person meeting. At the decoy’s prompting, Wilkie confessed the purpose of the meeting was for the 2 of them to have sex.
The meeting was arranged to take place at the home of the 14-year old at a time when he advised Wilkie no one else would be home. When Wilkie arrived and knocked on the door, it was answered by law enforcement agents who promptly arrested him.
At the heart of the appeal was the question of whether Brian Wilkie actually committed criminal sexual conduct if he did not physically perform a sexual act on the “victim”. The Court addressed the actions that Wilkie engaged in prior to the meeting. The panel ruled that all of the preparations made by Wilkie coupled with the fact that he actually followed through with the meeting constituted criminal sexual conduct even though no sexual act took place.
One of the judges on the panel disagreed that the substantial step occurred in Wilkie’s case. The judge felt that though Wilkie’s actions were indeed deplorable, he asserted his belief that Brian Wilkie’s actions only fell under the definition of preparations. The judge further stated that there were other laws that were more appropriate to charge him with in lieu of criminal sexual conduct.
You can read more about the judge’s opinions and the ruling here.
The advent of technology and the prevalence of social media in this age has prompted many lawmakers to revise current laws to keep up with our ever-changing world.
Dealing With Criminal Sexual Conduct Charges
If you or someone you know has been charged with criminal sexual conduct, you need to obtain representation immediately. It is imperative that you retain an attorney who has the experience required to defend you against charges such as these. Our firm has years of experience and knowledge along with the resources necessary to mount an aggressive and effective defense on your behalf.
We address each case on its own facts. Each defense is tailored to the specific case we are working on. We take pride in the personalized service we provide to our clients. You will be kept advised of every step we make and every action we take on your case. We will counsel you on making the best decisions for you, your family and your future.
Facing criminal charges is daunting and scary, having a law firm that works alongside you helping to navigate the legal system and protect your rights is critical.
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