What is a Sex Crime?
It is an unfortunate reality that for all of human history, people have been using and abusing each other sexually. Only in this modern era is the investigation, prosecution, and punishment for such behavior so abundant.
Today there are sex crimes charged in both state and federal court and all involve serious consequences. Charges involving criminal sexual conduct are among the most serious in criminal law and automatically stressful. Sometimes they can tear families apart.
The law concerning sex crimes can be complicated, and there are many different statutes and laws that govern sexual activity. Sex crimes include not only unwanted physical touching between adults or adults and minors, but also sending messages or videos of a sexual nature to minors, and more.
Here are answers to common questions:
What constitutes Criminal Sexual Conduct in Minnesota?
In Minnesota there are five levels of criminal sexual conduct, and each level depends on the ages of the people and behavior involved. The levels of criminal sexual conduct cover a range of behavior and with a range of penalties. The harshest penalties are reserved for nonconsensual sexual activity committed by force, coercion, or under the threat of a deadly weapon, especially if the complainant is a minor. In general, most convictions for Criminal Sexual Conduct require predatory registration, and penalties include potential prison time or onerous probation obligations.
What are the Degrees & Levels of Criminal Sexual Conduct?
First through fourth degree is a FELONY. A person is guilty of this level if the following is admitted or proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Fifth Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct is the lowest level of offense and could be a gross misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances. Please click the buttons below to learn more about each:
What does the State have to prove to convict someone of Criminal Sexual Conduct?
The burden is on the State to prove all elements of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. When the charges involve criminal sexual conduct, in general, the State must prove:
- That sexual contact or penetration occurred, and what it was exactly;
- That the defendant was the actor engaging in the sexual contact or penetration;
- That if the charge involves a minor and the ages of the parties involved are relevant, that the complaining witness was the age alleged in the charges at the time the alleged sexual contact or penetration occurred, and/or the defendant’s age at the time, if relevant;
- That if the charge involves an adult complainant, that the sexual contact or penetration was nonconsensual and involved
- The use or threatened use of a dangerous weapon
- The complainant’s state of mental or physical helplessness
- Physical injury to the complainant.
- That the alleged offense took place on or about a specific date, in the county where it was charged.
This is a general overview of the elements the State must prove. Every case has its own facts and the State has to prove specific details alleged in each charge. Defending these charges can be complicated, especially when the statutes specifically prohibit certain defenses to be raised, such as mistake of age.
However, because each case is different, there is the opportunity to raise novel and persuasive theories of defense that are not outlawed. Catherine has experience in defending charges of criminal sexual conduct on every level, and she can help defend you too.
Can a sex crime be expunged?
The short answer is: No, probably not.
Under Minnesota law, records of a conviction for an offense that requires predatory registration may not be expunged. Many, if not most, sex crimes in Minnesota require registration as a predatory offender and will never be eligible for expungement, sadly.
In the cases of convictions for sex crimes that don’t require the registration, it’s complicated but may be possible, depending on the facts and specific statutory provisions of the conviction.
There is no statutory expungement in federal court, however some Circuits do allow judges to order the sealing of criminal records in special circumstances. The Eighth Circuit allows federal courts to expunge criminal records over which it once exercised jurisdiction, but not over state court records, and only on very narrow grounds. The only other option available for sealing federal records would be a Presidential Pardon.
Do I need a lawyer if I’m charged with a sex crime?
YES! Accusations of criminal sexual conduct can have immediate consequences, such as the separation of family members or the loss of employment. Convictions for the same can have far reaching collateral consequences for the rest of a person’s life, including loss of housing or licensures, social isolation, and financial hardship. To adequately defend these charges, a defendant needs a lawyer with experience.
When Catherine represents people charged with sex crimes, she talks to them about what happened from their perspective and puts together a defense strategy that often involves talking to witnesses, gathering social media evidence, and making special motions in court.
She understands that accusations of rape, solicitation, or any other sex crime can ruin someone’s life and she’s committed to helping people fight the charges. She has won serious criminal sexual conduct trials, gotten charges dismissed, and kept people out of prison.
She knows how to work a case, and will help resolve the matter in the best interests of the client. Not every case ends up in trial, and Catherine is just as committed to negotiating a resolution that works for the client as she is to winning in front of a jury. Every situation is different and requires a unique approach. She will customize a defense that works for every client.
Catherine is an experienced criminal defense lawyer that defends against all criminal sexual conduct, solicitation, child pornography, and other sex crimes in state and federal court. If you or someone you love has been accused of a sex crime, Catherine can help. Call for a free consultation.