Man choking young woman indoors. what is a sex crime

What Is a Sex Crime?

What is a sex crime? In Minnesota, a sex crime encompasses a range of offenses with serious legal implications. Understanding the sex crime definition is crucial. If you are under investigation or have been charged with a sex offense, you need concise, actionable information. Understanding the elements that define sexual crimes, including key factors such as consent, age, and the nature of the act, may help equip you with valuable knowledge to make informed decisions moving forward.

Man choking young woman indoors. what is a sex crime

Understanding Minnesota’s Sex Crime Laws

Having an in-depth understanding of sex crime laws in Minnesota is crucial for individuals facing investigation or charges related to such offenses. The statistics paint a stark picture of the frequency of these incidents, underscoring the urgency of comprehensive legal knowledge. Moreover, focusing on the five distinct categories of criminal sexual conduct not only sheds light on the breadth of offenses covered by the law, but also empowers individuals with a clearer perspective on their situation. This knowledge is an invaluable asset when navigating the legal process, ensuring that every avenue of defense is explored with precision and confidence.

Statistics on Sex Crimes in Minnesota

When it comes to sex crimes, understanding the legal landscape is crucial for both legal practitioners and the public. Examining statistics and legal resources on sex offenses across the state may help provide insights into sex crimes that shed light on the gravity of the issue.

In 2022, according to the Minnesota Uniform Crime Report, the state witnessed a total of 5,492 reported incidents of sex crimes. Among these, sexual assault accounted for 2,907 incidents, constituting a significant portion of the reported cases. Additionally, there were 1,548 incidents of rape and 937 incidents of fondling. Of the reported incidents,1,013 cases were cleared by arrest.

A majority of victims of these offenses are female, comprising 83% of reported cases across Minnesota in 2022. The highest number of victims fell within the 18-24 age group, representing 31% of reported incidents. The 25-34 age group, constituting 22% of cases, followed closely.

The report highlights that the majority of sex crimes took place in residential locations, comprising 45% of incidents. Public areas, such as streets and highways, accounted for 16% of cases.

Categories of Sex Crimes

Navigating the legal terrain of criminal sexual conduct in Minnesota demands a clear understanding of its intricacies. The state’s law meticulously categorizes these offenses into five distinct classes, each carrying its own weight in the eyes of the law. From first-degree, which involves force, coercion, or victim age, to fifth-degree, encompassing non-consensual contact, the implications are profound. It’s imperative to grasp these distinctions, as they hold significant consequences.

First-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct

First-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct involves the use of force, coercion, or engaging in sexual penetration with a victim under 13 years of age. This category also encompasses situations where the victim is between 13 and 16 years old, and the offender holds a position of authority.

Second-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct

Second-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct encompasses sexual contact with a victim under 13 years old, or with a victim between 13 and 16 years old when the perpetrator is at least four years older and holds a position of authority. This category also covers instances involving force, coercion, or similar situations.

Third-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct

Third-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct revolves around non-consensual sexual penetration under various circumstances. This includes cases where the victim is mentally impaired or physically helpless, as well as situations involving force or coercion.

Fourth-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct

Fourth-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct pertains to engaging in sexual contact without the explicit consent of the victim. It can also involve cases where the victim is between 13 and 16 years old, and the offender holds a position of authority.

Fifth-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct

Fifth-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct involves engaging in non-consensual sexual contact. Typically, this category applies to situations where the victim is over 16 years old, and the offender does not hold a position of authority.

Types of Sex Crimes in Minnesota

These offenses encompass a wide range of behaviors, each carrying distinct legal implications. A sex crimes lawyer provides legal resources, and can help you understand the distinctions between sexual offenses. Your attorney will also explain the potential repercussions of convictions. 

Sex offenses for which you may be charged in Minnesota include:


Rape involves engaging in sexual penetration without the explicit and voluntary consent of the other party. It is a deeply serious charge, with penalties that escalate based on factors like use of force, the age of the victim, and prior criminal history. The penalties you may face if convicted of this felony-level offense include prison time and mandatory registration as a sex offender.

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault encompasses non-consensual sexual contact, which may or may not involve penetration. This offense can involve a wide array of behaviors, ranging from unwanted touching to more severe forms of sexual contact. Charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the circumstances, you may face prison or jail time, fines, and mandatory sex offender registration if you are convicted.

Child Pornography

Child pornography pertains to the possession, production, or distribution of explicit images involving minors. The legal system in Minnesota takes a particularly stringent stance on offenses related to child exploitation. Charged as a felony, you may be required to register as a sex offender if convicted of child pornography, as well as face significant fines and prison time.

Solicitation or Sexual Exploitation of Minors

Solicitation of a minor occurs when an individual attempts to engage a minor in sexual activities. Even the act of solicitation, regardless of whether it leads to physical contact, is treated seriously under Minnesota law. Therefore, if convicted of this felony level offense, you may face a significant prison sentence and fines, as well as a mandatory sex offender registration requirement.

Sexual exploitation of a minor, on the other hand, involves using minors in sexual activities for any form of exploitation. It encompasses a range of behaviors designed to take advantage of a minor’s vulnerability and lack of legal capacity.


Engaging in prostitution involves exchanging sexual services for money or other forms of compensation. It is a charge that primarily applies to the individual offering or providing sexual services in exchange for payment. A misdemeanor offense, a conviction on prostitution charges may result in jail time and fines.

Those who exchange compensation of some kind in return for sexual services may face charges for solicitation of a prostitute. 

Indecent Exposure

Publicly exposing one’s intimate parts in a manner likely to offend or alarm others falls under this category. While it may not involve direct physical contact, it constitutes a form of sexual misconduct. Indecent exposure is a misdemeanor offense in Minnesota, and carries penalties such as fines, probation, and jail time.

Process of Prosecuting a Sex Crime in Minnesota

Understanding the process of investigating and prosecuting sex crimes in Minnesota is crucial for anyone involved in such cases. Whether you are a victim seeking justice or facing allegations, knowing the steps involved can help navigate this complex legal issue.

Investigating and Prosecuting Sex Crime

What happens after you get arrested for sex offender crimes? In Minnesota, investigating and prosecuting sex crimes is a meticulous process aimed at ensuring due process and protecting the rights of all parties involved. Law enforcement will collect physical evidence, interview witnesses, and gather any available surveillance footage. Both the victim and the suspect will be interviewed to gather their accounts of the incident. Any collected evidence will undergo thorough forensic analysis to establish a factual basis for the case.

After the investigation, the case is reviewed by a prosecutor, who determines whether there is enough evidence to proceed with charges. If deemed appropriate, the prosecutor will file formal charges against the accused. These charges will outline the specific allegations and legal basis for the case. The case will proceed through the court system, where both the prosecution and defense will present their arguments. The judge or jury will ultimately decide the verdict. If convicted, the defendant will face sentencing.

Sex crimes are grave offenses that demand thorough investigation and due process. Understanding the legal proceedings surrounding sex crime cases in Minnesota is essential for all parties involved, to help limit how a sex crime can screw your future.

Legal Rights of Defendants Accused of Sex Crimes

When facing allegations of a sex crime in Minnesota, it’s imperative to understand your legal rights. These rights are designed to ensure fairness and protect the accused throughout the legal process.

Presumption of Innocence

One of the fundamental principles of the legal system is the presumption of innocence. This means every defendant is considered innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. It is the prosecution’s burden to establish guilt, not the defendant’s burden to prove innocence.

Right to Legal Representation

Every defendant has the right to be represented by an attorney. If a defendant cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided by the court, so your concern need not rest on how much sex crime defense will cost. Having legal representation is important for building a strong defense, understanding the charges, and navigating the complexities of the legal process.

Right to Remain Silent

Defendants have the right to remain silent and cannot be compelled to testify against themselves. As such, they have the option to refrain from answering questions from law enforcement or during court proceedings. Anything said can be used against the defendant, so it’s important to consult with an attorney before providing any statements.

Right to a Fair Trial

Every defendant is entitled to a fair and impartial trial. To this end, you have the right to an unbiased judge, the right to challenge evidence presented by the prosecution, and the right to present a defense.

Right to Confront Witnesses

Defendants have the right to confront and cross-examine witnesses presented by the prosecution. The right to confront witnesses allows for the opportunity to challenge their credibility and question the accuracy of their testimony, which may aid in defending against sex crime charges in Minneapolis.

Right to a Speedy Trial

Defendants have the right to a trial without undue delay. The right to an expeditious trial ensures that the legal process moves forward in a timely manner, preventing unnecessary delays that could prejudice the defendant’s case.

Protection From Double Jeopardy

The Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment protects defendants from facing trial for the same offense more than once. Once a verdict has been reached, a defendant cannot be retried for the same crime.

Protection From Cruel and Unusual Punishment

The Eighth Amendment protects defendants from excessive or cruel punishment. Prohibiting excessive or cruel punishment ensures that any penalties imposed are proportionate to the offense committed.

Right to Appeal

If a defendant is convicted, he or she has the right to appeal the decision. This allows for a review of the trial proceedings and the possibility of having the verdict overturned or the sentence reduced.

Right to Privacy

Defendants have the right to privacy in their personal matters. This includes protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, ensuring that evidence obtained unlawfully cannot be used against them.

Understanding these rights is crucial for defendants accused of sex crimes in Minnesota. It empowers them to actively participate in their defense and ensures that their rights are upheld throughout the legal process. If you or someone you know is facing allegations of a sex crime, it’s essential to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can explain what a sex crime is in Minnesota and advocate for your rights.

Max Keller has won countless jury trial cases involving misdemeanors and felonies, sex crimes, and DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. Max is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

Years of Experience: Approx. 20 years
Minnesota Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: State of Minnesota Minnesota State Court Minnesota Federal Court 8th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals State of Maryland

What to Do If You Have Been Charged with a Criminal Offense

Confidential informants may provide integral information to help build criminal investigations, but how reliable is that information when they are receiving payment for their services? To protect them, state law requires the identity of informants be kept confidential. For those facing criminal charges, however, this creates challenges in questioning the accuracy and validity of the information given at trial.
Stay calm and compose after getting accused of a crime but not charged in Minneapolis, MN. Do not discuss the facts of your case with anyone, including your relatives and family members. Hire a criminal defense attorney with a demonstrated record of winning cases like yours. Your attorney will discuss your rights, guide you on how to cooperate with law enforcement within the legal boundaries, and build a solid defense strategy to fight the charges you could face in the future.
Expungement and sealing of records in Minnesota affect how your criminal history appears to government agencies and the public. The main difference between the two legal actions is that expungement permanently removes past arrests, criminal charges, or convictions from private and public databases, while sealing hides the criminal record from the public. Courts, government entities, and law enforcement agencies can access sealed criminal records.