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Minors Accused of Sex Crimes Against Children

Minnesota Sex Crimes Lawyer

The stereotypical picture of someone charged with a sexual crime is that of the “dirty old man” who lurks around corners or in a dark alley ready to assault the innocent. Reality is often quite different. The United States Department of Justice reports that minors commit more than one third of reported sex offenses against children. Thus, the image of the sex offender is altered dramatically.

What happens when you are the parent of a minor child (under age 18) who is accused and/or charged with a sex crime? Knowledge and correct action will help you and your offspring manage this frightening and challenging situation.

Types of Sex Crimes

Minors are accused and charged with the same types of crimes as adults. These include possession and distribution of child pornography, molestation, lewd acts, sexual assault and rape. Many minors are charged with multiple crimes in connection with the same victim or multiple children. Victims are most typically known to the suspected offender as is often the case when an adult is charged with sex offenses.

When a person under 18 years of age is arrested and charged with one or multiple sex crimes, he/she is sometimes released into the custody of parents or other relatives, remanded to a juvenile detention facility or placed in a foster care environment. Each type of sexual offense committed is classified as a misdemeanor or felony.

Juvenile Court or Adult Criminal Court?

A minor charged with a sex offense can face adjudication in a juvenile court or undergo prosecution in a criminal court. Often the gradation of the offense helps legal authorities decide which type of court to try the case. For example, a misdemeanor charge such as sexual activity committed voluntarily between minors aged 14 to 17 often is handled in juvenile court while a felony, such as rape, often lands the suspect in adult criminal court.

Another factor often considered when determining the venue in which the suspect is tried is whether or not the minor has a criminal history. Also, the younger a suspect is the more likely he/she will be tried in a juvenile court. Almost always, forcible sex offenses are prosecuted in adult courts.

Penalties Following Juvenile Adjudication or Criminal Conviction

Juvenile court penalties range from probation to placement in juvenile detention center up until age 25. Courts often take various factors into consideration–such as the severity of the offense(s) and whether the minor is a re-offender– when deciding what sanctions to impose.

Criminal courts try minors as adults and therefore, the penalties they impose are the same as for offenders over age 18. Below are the most common sentences a minor receives as a result of criminal conviction:

  • Probation under which the minor is under formal supervision for a designated period of time
  • A sentence in an adult prison which might or might not be lengthy
  • A fine of up to $10,000

Important Actions to Take

Parents should act quickly when they their child is suspected of committing a sex crime. Remember, youths possess the same rights as adults in the United States. Explain to your child that he/she has the right not to talk to police or anyone else regarding the alleged crime(s). Ask your child not to confide to friends regarding the allegation and not to post anything on social media regarding it.

The most important step to take as a parent is to obtain an attorney for the minor. An attorney can provide legal guidance for the child and parents, can sit in on police interviews and handle any public statements.

Please contact us to learn more about criminal defense in Minnesota.


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.