On December 30, 2011 29-year-old Nathan Williams Charles Jones was arrested for a groping incident that allegedly occurred in the Fridley Wal-Mart on December 26. According to news sources, a man matching Jones’ description was captured on Wal-Mart surveillance video touching the buttocks of an 11-year-old girl before quickly exiting the store. Jones was held in the Anoka County Jail over the holiday weekend and was charged with Second Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct on January 3, 2012.
Criminal Sexual Conduct is a felony and a very serious charge that can result in heavy penalties. While anyone facing accusations of sexual impropriety should contact a Minneapolis sex crimes attorney to fully protect their rights, having a basic understanding of Jones’ case and the distinctions between the most severe levels of Criminal Sexual Conduct under Minnesota law can be beneficial.
Jones Suspected Based On Public Tips, Apartment Search
According to law enforcement officials, Wal-Mart security video from December 26, 2011 shows a man trailing the alleged victim and her older sister around the store before he touched the girl inappropriately while she stood near her mother. The man is reported to have said “Excuse me” to the girl and then walked away.
Suspicion fell on Jones after the authorities released still images from the surveillance video and received several tip calls from the public. On the day he was arrested, police executed a search warrant at Jones’ Columbia Heights residence and found clothing similar to that worn by the man observed in the video as well as a handwritten note that made mention of Wal-Mart surveillance systems.
The criminal complaint filed against Jones states that he had two prior convictions for Indecent Exposure, and that he allegedly participated in a prior incident in a Target store in which he touched a female customer’s buttocks before saying “excuse me” and leaving the store. Jones was released from the Anoka County Jail on January 3 after posting a $100,000 bail bond. Jones is next due in court in early February.
During Jones’ next court appearance, a trial date could be set. In addition, a Minnesota criminal defense lawyer typically uses this stage of the proceedings to request an omnibus hearing if they would like to get evidence thrown out or “suppressed.”
Differences Between First and Second Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct In Minnesota
There are several levels of criminal sexual conduct under Minnesota law. The two most serious are Criminal Sexual Conduct in the First Degree, and Criminal Sexual Conduct in the Second Degree. Both carry prison terms under the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines.
There are many similarities between first and second degree Criminal Sexual Conduct. But, there are also a few meaningful differences. Criminal Sexual Conduct in the First Degree is primarily geared toward offenses involving sexual penetration with another person, while individuals can be charged with Criminal Sexual Conduct in the Second Degree for sexual contact, meaning conduct that did not reach the point of penetration.
There is an important exception to this general distinction: sexual contact with a person under the age of 13 if the defendant is more than 36 months older than the complainant (the alleged victim) may be charged as Criminal Sexual Conduct in the First Degree even if there is no sexual penetration. However, sexual contact is defined slightly differently in Minnesota Statutes for first and second degree criminal sexual conduct.
For Criminal Sexual Conduct in the First Degree, “sexual contact” is defined as intentional touching with aggressive or sexual intent between the bare genitals or anal opening of someone under 13 and the bare genitals or anal opening of the accused or another. For Criminal Sexual Conduct in the Second Degree, “sexual contact” is defined much more broadly to include, among other things, the intentional touching of intimate parts, touching of the clothing covering the immediate area of the intimate parts and the intentional touching of the complainant’s body or clothing with seminal fluid or sperm. Since no bare contact between genitals or the anal opening was alleged in Jones’ case, he could not be accused of the more serious first degree charge.
Neither mistake as to the complainant’s age nor consent is a defense to first or second degree Criminal Sexual Conduct, if:
- The complainant is under the age of 13 and the defendant is more than 36 months older than the complainant;
- The complainant is at least 13 but less than 16 and the defendant is more than 48 months older than the complainant and in a position of authority over the complainant; or
- The defendant has a significant relationship to the complainant and the complainant was under the age of 16 at the time of the sexual penetration or contact.
Both first and second degree Criminal Sexual Conduct can also be committed against individuals 16 and older in a variety of circumstances, chiefly if:
- A weapon is used to cause the complainant to submit;
- The actor used force to accomplish the offense and caused injury to the complainant; or
- The actor did not use force to accomplish the contact or penetration but caused injury and had reason to know the complainant was mentally impaired or physically helpless.
The potential penalties for each offense vary by their respective seriousness. Someone convicted of Criminal Sexual Conduct in the First Degree can face a prison term of up to 30 years, a fine of up to $40,000, or both, and a presumptive sentence of 12 years in prison. Criminal Sexual Conduct in the Second Degree carries penalties of up to 25 years imprisonment, a fine of $35,000, or both. For either offense, prison terms can be enhanced up to a mandatory life sentence for offenses committed with certain “heinous elements” or for repeat offenders.
Charged With A Minnesota Sex Offense? Protect Your Rights
The potential prison terms and fines for sex offenses committed in Minnesota are not to be taken lightly, and they may be compounded by sex offender registration requirements and other lifelong legal consequences. If you have been charged with a sex offense, it is not an overstatement to say that your future hangs in the balance. Do not let bad evidence forever taint your prospects – protect your rights by contacting an experienced criminal defense attorney today.