When individuals engage in sexual activity with children who are under the age of consent, they can be convicted of statutory rape. In Minnesota, the age of consent for sexual activity is in most cases is 16. Many adolescents who have participated in sexual activity have been charged and convicted of a sexual offense and faced punishments as severe as adult sex offenders might.
The Penalties of Statutory Rape
A statutory rape conviction can be life changing for a teenager in Minnesota. This type of conduct can be charged as one of three offenses and carries the following possible penalties.
- First Degree Sexual Conduct: When sexual penetration has occurred, statutory rape can be punished very severely. The offender faces up to 30 years in prison and up to $40,000 in fines.
- Second Degree Sexual Conduct: When there is no penetration, but the activity was with a child under the age of 13 and the defendant is at least three years older, or with a child between 13 and 16 when the defendant is at least four years older and in a position of authority, it is considered second degree sexual conduct. The offender faces fines of up to $35,000 and up to 25 years in prison.
- Third Degree Sexual Conduct: Engaging in penetration with a child under 13 when the defendant is less than three years older, with a child between 13 and 16 when the defendant is more than two years older, or with a child between 16 and 18 when the defendant is a person of authority is criminal sexual conduct in the third degree. It is punishable by up to $15,000 in fines and 15 years in prison.
- Fourth Degree Sexual Conduct: When there is no penetration and the child is under 13 with a defendant less than three years older, a child between 13 and 16 with a defendant more than four years older, or between 13 and 18 with a person of authority, it is fourth degree sexual conduct. A conviction can result in up to 10 years behind bars and $20,000 in fines.
Any conviction of criminal sexual conduct will require that the individual register as a sex offender.
Romeo and Juliet Exception
Under the Romeo and Juliet exception in Minnesota, individuals less than two years older than a child between 13 and 16 cannot be prosecuted for statutory rape. If there is no penetration, the allowable age difference is four years.