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Minnesota Statutory Rape Laws: Ignorance of Age Is Not a Legal Defense

Sex crimes are extremely serious issues. When someone is accused and convicted of a sex crime, it will permanently affect their life. Understandably, juries and judges tend to be very harsh on sex crimes defendants during the sentencing process.

Statutory rape brings about some seriously dark connotations. Just by containing the word “rape,” the term brings an image of an unwilling partner being forced in awful events. In reality, statutory rape laws mainly represent an inability of the victim to consent to sex legally; however, they do not generally involve violent rape charges.

This type of rape is considered a strict liability offense. It means the offender cannot use ignorance of the victim’s age as a defense; even a bona fide belief of the victim maturity is not a defense. Besides, if the victim lies about their age, this is still not a defense. In Minnesota, 16 years old is the age of consent.

A minor between 13 and 16 of age can lawfully consent to sex with a person who is two years older than them. But, if an adult involves sexual conduct with a child who is four years younger, then the adult could be charged with statutory rape.

Minnesota has four degrees of criminal sexual conduct. The offender may be charged by degrees depending on the type of sexual activity and the age difference or relationship between the two. The age of the minor may also play a significant factor in the severity of the consequences.

First-Degree Sexual Conduct

This is when there is sexual penetration, for example, sexual intercourse, oral sex, anal sex, or any other form of penetration occurs between:

  • a child below 13 years old and the partner is three or more years old
  • if a minor is over 13 years but below the age of 16, and a defendant is four years older
  • the person accused was armed or threatened the victim with a dangerous weapon
  • the person accused has a significant relationship with the victim. It can either be the victim’s parent, guardian, stepparent, a relative by blood, marriage, or adoption, and the victim is below 16 at the time of sexual penetration.

Second-Degree Sexual Contact

If there is sexual contact short of penetration with:

  • A minor under the age of 13 when the offender is three or more years older.
  • A child below the age of 16 when the offender is more than four years older.

Third-Degree Sexual Conduct

Here the offender engages in sexual penetration with:

  • a minor under the age of 13 when the offender is not more than three years older than the minor
  • a minor over the age of 13 but under the age of 16 when the offender is two years older than the child, or
  • a minor who is below the age of 18 when the offender is more than four years older.

Fourth-Degree Sexual Conduct

In this case, an act of unlawful offense occurred between the offender and a child that involved sexual touch, except penetration. This can include improper touching of the genitals. The same events defined under third-degree statutory rape also apply to a fourth-degree criminal sexual offense.

Are You Minnesota? We Can Help Defend You

If you are in trouble and accused of statutory rape in Minnesota, you will need to have an expert lawyer in your corner. At Rogosheske, Rogosheske& Atkins, PLLC, we are an experienced law firm in St. Paul, Minnesota, who has extensive knowledge of the laws and affirmative defenses in criminal sexual conduct, DWI (drinking and driving) defense work, debt collection, and any other kind of personal injury.

To schedule a free consultation, don’t hesitate to contact us on 651-451-6411 or visit our St. Paul criminal defense and personal injury office to discuss your case with one of the attorneys. Going it alone is not advisable; mere procedural slip-ups can cost you years in prison.


Disclaimer: The information contained on this page does not constitute an attorney client relationship. Be sure to contact our law office to discuss your case with an attorney.