CRIME AND PUNISHMENT

What is a crime?

Crime means conduct by a person that is against the law. If someone commits a crime, the penalties can vary significantly ranging from a fine to serving time in prison to repairing damage that was done, such as cleaning graffiti.

What are the different kinds of crimes?

The Minnesota criminal code, traffic code, related statutes, and various city ordinances create four levels of crimes ranging from least serious to most serious:

A petty misdemeanor is not technically a crime. It is a non-criminal offense for which a person may be required to pay a fine of up to $300. Petty misdemeanors can include minor traffic violations.

A misdemeanor is a crime. If convicted of a misdemeanor offense, a person might be sent to jail for up to 90 days and fined up to $1,000. Misdemeanors can include certain Driving-While-Impaired (DWI) violations, certain assaults, certain thefts, certain prostitution offenses, driving without motor vehicle insurance, and driving after suspension or revocation of a driver’s license.

A gross misdemeanor is a crime for which a person can be sent to jail for up to one year and fined up to $3,000. Gross misdemeanors can include certain DWI offenses, certain assaults, and some prostitution offenses.

The most serious offense is a felony for which a person can be sent to prison for more than one year. Felonies can include such crimes as burglary, most criminal sexual conduct crimes, certain theft crimes, robbery, and serious assault crimes.

Sentences of more than one year are served in state prison, while sentences of one year or less are generally served in the county jail or workhouse.

THE CRIMINAL COURT SYSTEM

What happens if I am charged with committing a crime?

Generally, any person under 18 years of age who commits a crime is assigned to the juvenile court system, and anyone 18 years of age or older is subject to the adult court system. Some people under age 18 may also go to adult court, as discussed below. Breaking federal laws can result in criminal prosecution in the federal rather than state court system.

If you are charged with a crime, there are penalties that may be imposed on you, such as having to pay a fine or go to jail or prison.

In a criminal case, the plaintiff is the State of Minnesota (or other government entity), and that entity brings the charges against you, the defendant. Usually the location of the court is in the county where the crime occurred. You have certain constitutional rights as a defendant in a criminal case including a right to a lawyer, and the right to be presumed innocent.

The court procedures are slightly different depending on the seriousness of the crime charged. You will likely have to show up to court in order to challenge the charges against you. Depending on how serious the crime is, there may be more court hearings to go to.

Your case will continue until it is resolved. It can be resolved in a number of ways. The government might dismiss the case if the prosecutor does not have enough evidence to go forward. You (or your attorney on your behalf) could negotiate with the government and work out an agreement, or you can have a trial to decide whether you committed the crime.

Do I have the right to an attorney?

If you are accused of committing a misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, or felony level crime that could be punished with jail or prison, then you have the right to be represented by an attorney. This means that you can hire a private attorney or, if you cannot afford to hire an attorney, the court will appoint an attorney to defend you—a public defender. The court will determine if you qualify for a free public defender by looking at factors such as how much money you earn.

Does the government have an attorney also?

Yes. The government will be represented by a prosecutor who handles criminal cases. The prosecutor may be a county attorney or a city attorney.

Do I have a right to a jury trial?

Yes. If you are accused of committing a misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, or felony level offense, you have the right to have a jury trial. During a jury trial, people from the community selected randomly will serve as the jurors on your case and will decide if you are guilty or not guilty of the crime. Alternatively, you can choose to have a court or “bench” trial with only the judge to make the decision.

During a jury trial, the government has the burden of proving “beyond a reasonable doubt” that you are guilty. You cannot be convicted unless the jury members are all in agreement, that is, they reach a unanimous verdict.

JUVENILE COURT

Do some crimes only apply to juveniles?

Juvenile offenses are divided into two categories: non-status offenses and status offenses.

Non-status offenses are those that would also be against the law if done by an adult.

Status offenses are those that are against the law just because of age.

Common status offenses include:

  • Violation of curfew: There are no statewide curfew restrictions for minors. However, cities can have their own local curfew laws. Also, each county can have county-wide curfews for minors. Hennepin County, for example, has its own county-wide curfew that limits how late juveniles can be out. Even in places where there are local curfews, the curfew rules will not be enforced in cases of emergencies or when the juvenile is with a parent, guardian, or other responsible adult.
  • Truancy: This is the continued failure to attend school.

How do courts handle crimes by juveniles differently than crimes by adults?

The Minnesota Juvenile Code controls what happens when crimes are committed by minors (people younger than 18 years of age). Different treatment is usually given to minors. Juvenile court focuses more on guidance and rehabilitation than adult court.

In most cases, juveniles who commit crimes go to juvenile court, but there are some exceptions depending on the juvenile’s age and how serious the crime is. In circumstances where a juvenile is treated as an adult by the criminal justice system, the juvenile goes to an adult court and receives an adult punishment. For example, if a child 16 years of age or older is accused of committing murder in the first degree, the case can be held in adult court.

Typically, the more serious the crime (e.g., crimes of violence such as sexual assault, robbery, extortion, kidnapping, and murder), the more likely the court will consider the juvenile in the same manner as an adult. Once juveniles are treated as adults by the criminal justice system for a certain crime, they usually will be treated as adults in all future criminal proceedings.

If a minor is 14 years of age or older and commits a serious crime, he or she may be placed in “extended juvenile jurisdiction” (EJJ). This means that the juvenile court will treat the juvenile as an adult and impose adult penalties.

In EJJ cases, the juvenile has a right to a jury trial. If convicted, the minor receives two sentences. One is a juvenile sentence. The other is an adult sentence that is put on hold. The juvenile is usually then given conditions to follow. If the individual fails to follow those conditions, the court may impose the adult sentence.

The juvenile court also has the ability to “certify” a juvenile to adult court under specific circumstances. The juvenile must be at least 14 years old and be accused of committing an offense that would be a felony if committed by an adult. In certain cases, it can be presumed that a case involving a juvenile will be certified to adult court. This would be if the juvenile was 16 or 17 years old, and is charged with committing either a crime for which a person sentenced could be imprisoned or for a felony involving a gun.

To decide if it would be best for public safety to certify the juvenile, the court will look at many factors, including how serious the crime is and the juvenile’s prior criminal record.

Does a juvenile have a right to an attorney, and to be tried by a jury?

A minor has the right to be represented by an attorney in any proceeding in juvenile court or adult court. However, for petty misdemeanor cases, a juvenile has the right to have an attorney, but not one provided at the public’s expense. So, juveniles are not provided public defenders in petty matters.

In order to protect the juvenile’s rights, the law requires that a juvenile charged in a delinquency petition with a misdemeanor must talk with an attorney before giving up the right to be represented by a lawyer, or before making any kind of plea in court. If the juvenile gives up the right to an attorney after being charged with a gross misdemeanor or felony crime or where the juvenile could be taken out of the home, the juvenile court must appoint a “standby” attorney. Also, in a delinquency or EJJ case, the juvenile’s parent or guardian must come to each court hearing unless excused by the court.

If the juvenile has committed a crime that is not handled in the juvenile court or the matter has been certified to adult court, or if extended juvenile jurisdiction prosecution is used by the court, then the juvenile has the right to a trial by jury. The same basic rules apply to a juvenile criminal trial as in an adult criminal trial. The juvenile cannot be convicted unless the jury is able to reach a unanimous verdict. The government has the burden of proving the juvenile is guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

 

INTERACTING WITH THE POLICE

If I am a minor, can the police make me leave a public place?

Yes, under some conditions, they can. If you are in a public place after the legal time set by the local government’s ordinance, the police have a right to force you to leave for violation of curfew. Also, you can be forced to leave a public place if you are engaging in disorderly conduct such as fighting, using offensive, obscene, or abusive language, or if you are acting in a boisterous and noisy way that could cause alarm, anger, or resentment in others.

One of the most common places police officers force minors to leave is a shopping mall. A shopping center may be private property with some legal aspects of a “public place.” Not only can police officers force you to leave if you are causing some sort of disturbance, but security personnel at the private property also have the right to make you leave even though that property is normally open to the public.

Can police take my picture without my permission?

Your picture may be taken without your permission by police if you are arrested for committing a crime. If arrested, you will be taken through what is called a booking process. This is where the police collect identifying information such as fingerprints and take a photograph of you. Any picture taken of a juvenile by police must be destroyed before the juvenile turns 19 years old.

When can police take money from me?

For both adults and minors, after an arrest and during the booking process, a police officer conducts an inventory of any personal belongings that you have with you at the time of your arrest. The purpose of this inventory and collecting personal items is to prevent any of your belongings from becoming lost or misplaced. The police temporarily hold items and return them to you when you are released. The police are not entitled to keep your property unless it is contraband (illegal substances).

If you gain money or other property from criminal activity, the police may seek forfeiture (where you permanently lose the property). They can then keep the property if you do not challenge the forfeiture.

Police may also temporarily hold property as evidence for use at trial in a pending case. You may challenge these actions in court. If police take or keep your property, you should talk to a lawyer quickly before time limits expire on pursuing a challenge in court.

Do I need to carry identification with me always?

No. For both adults and minors, if a police officer has reason to suspect that a crime has occurred and reason to suspect that you committed the crime, the officer has the right to stop you for questioning and to ask for an explanation of your conduct. But you have the right not to say anything to the police officer upon questioning.

The police also can ask that you produce identification. Unless driving, you do not have to give it to them. If you do not have a form of identification with you, this is not a crime. In any event, never give the police officer a false name or a name of another person, because that is a crime. If an officer questions you regarding your name and address and the reasons why you are there, either be truthful or remain silent, but do not lie.

You must, however, carry identification when you are driving a motor vehicle. Under Minnesota law, every person with a driver’s license must have the license in immediate possession at all times when operating a motor vehicle and must show it to police if they ask for it.

How cooperative must I be with the police?

In any encounter with a police officer, regardless of whether you are an adult or a minor, keep in mind that ordinarily the officer will not know who you are. The quickest way to guarantee your arrest is to act in a belligerent or hostile manner toward the police officer. Doing so can only worsen your situation. In general, it is best to remain calm and courteous to avoid unnecessary escalation of hostilities.

Police officers have the right to stop and briefly detain you if they suspect that a crime is about to occur or has occurred, and that you are involved in that crime.

Any time a police officer attempts to stop you, you should stop. However, you are not required to answer police questions if you are stopped or suspected of a crime. By resisting arrest or fleeing a police officer, you are committing additional crimes which may lead to a forceful apprehension. If you are polite and well-mannered, you are less likely to be injured or further restrained, or have additional criminal charges filed against you.

If suspected of a crime or arrested, you should remain calm and avoid talking to anyone other than your attorney. You can refuse to answer any questions by police officers until you have your attorney present for the questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, the court will provide one for you without cost to you.

Also, you do not have to consent to any searches of your person, car, home, or other property. If you talk to police about a suspected crime or consent to searches, you may be giving up other legal rights that you have. Consulting first with an attorney can help protect those rights.

Even small talk with other people in the jail could come back to haunt you later. Sometimes “jailhouse snitches” may claim you said something in order to help save themselves from their own trouble. This can be prevented by not talking to anyone when in jail, even other inmates. The same is true with phone calls you make—they are likely being recorded and can be used against you (unless they are phone calls to a lawyer).

When can the police search me, my car, or my house? Must they have a search warrant?

Usually the police need a warrant to search either you or the things you own, such as your car and house. If you are ever handed a search warrant, you should read it carefully to make sure the police have the right person and correct address, and that the judge’s name and signature are included. The warrant should also tell you what the police are looking for and what they have permission to search.

If you voluntarily consent (agree) to a search, then the police do not need a search warrant or probable cause, to search you, your belongings, your car, or your home.

Sometimes the police do not need a warrant to search. They can search without your consent under these conditions:

  • If you are lawfully arrested, the police may search you and the area within your immediate reach and control
  • If the police reasonably believe that you are armed and dangerous, they may frisk you
  • If you are fleeing from the police
  • If the police have a reasonable belief that you have contraband in your car or have evidence of a crime in the vehicle
  • If you are arrested and if your vehicle is towed and impounded, the police may do an inventory search to identify all articles in your car
  • If it is an emergency situation that could involve the loss of life or serious injuries, or that evidence will be destroyed.

In the case of a minor child living with parents, the minor is under the parents’ supervision and care. Parents can agree to a search of the child’s room even though the child has not agreed to such a search.

Can a police officer of the opposite sex search me?

If you are stopped, an officer of any gender may conduct a frisk, or pat-down search. Full-body search procedures may be regulated by state law or by a local police department’s regulations. The policy of most Minnesota police departments is that a full-body search should be conducted by someone of the same gender.

What is “arrest probable cause?”

Probable cause for arrest is evidence that would give a police officer reasonable suspicion that a crime was committed or will be committed, and that the suspect committed it. A suspect can be taken into custody with or without a search warrant or arrest warrant if the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect committed a crime.

There are some instances where police cannot arrest a person based on probable cause alone. For example, a person cannot be arrested for certain misdemeanor crimes unless the crime is committed in the presence of the police officer making the arrest. This is called the “misdemeanor in presence” arrest rule. It does not apply to some misdemeanors such as domestic assault or DWI.

If I buy something from someone and find out it was stolen, can I be arrested?

A person who receives stolen goods is not an accomplice of the original thief. When people discover that they have property that has been stolen, they do have an obligation to immediately and unconditionally return the property to its lawful owner or at least make it available for the owner to pick up.

In order to be convicted of the crime of receiving stolen property, each of the following must be proven:

  • The property must have been stolen.
  • The person received, possessed, transferred, bought, or concealed the property. Concealment does not only mean hiding, but can also mean any act or conduct that helps the thief to make the property their own, or that makes it harder for the owner to find the property.
  • The person knew or had reason to know the property had been stolen, but intentionally received, possessed, transferred, brought, or concealed the property anyway. Sometimes facts of the situation make it clear that the person should have known the property was stolen. For example, if the price was unusually low or the sale seemed suspicious.
  • The property had some value. Receiving and concealing property with a value of $500 or less is a misdemeanor. It is a gross misdemeanor to receive and conceal property with a value of more than $500 but less than $1,000. It is a felony to receive and conceal property with a value of $1,000 or more.

If I am arrested for a crime, what can I expect from the police?

If arrested, you can expect to be searched for weapons by the police and to be taken to a police station. You must be advised of your rights under the Minnesota and U.S. Constitution (in what is commonly called your Miranda warning) only if the police intend to question you and you are under arrest (in custody).

Whether or not police read you a Miranda warning, you still have all of your constitutional and other legal rights. Your rights include:

  • You have the right to say nothing (remain silent) to the police.
  • You have a right to an attorney and to have that attorney present if you are questioned.
  • You have the right to have an attorney appointed if you cannot afford one.
  • You may refuse to make any statement or discuss the case with anyone without your attorney present. However, any information you give voluntarily can be used as evidence against you in court.

Law enforcement officers cannot force or threaten you into answering questions and cannot obtain statements from you by offering you a deal. If you are a juvenile, in addition to your lawful right to talk with a lawyer and have a lawyer present before any questioning by police, you also have the legal right to have your parent or legal guardian present.

How soon after being arrested do I appear before a judge?

In most cases, you will appear before a judge within 36 hours of your arrest, excluding the day of arrest, Sundays, and holidays.

What is bail?

Bail money is cash deposited with the court to guarantee that the person accused of a crime will appear in court. It is refunded when the criminal charge is dismissed or the person is sentenced, if the person has not missed any court dates.

A “bail bond” is a bond written by a bail bond agent promising to pay the bail amount to the court if the person fails to show up for court. It is like a loan the person can get from the bond agent to help post the bail. Usually the person has to pay a portion of the total bail amount to the bond agent. If a person does not appear in court, the bail bond company may send a bounty hunter after the person to bring him or her back to the court.

Sometimes the court will require a “recognizance” bond, where the persons agree to pay a certain amount of money if they fail to appear in court. Usually, a member of the family must obtain the funds, deposit the money, and then show the receipt in order to get the person released.

Bail is not always required. Sometimes the court accepts the promise of the person that he or she will appear at trial. This is called “being released on one’s own recognizance.” Also, in some cases, the person could be released without bail but on “conditional release.” This means that there are certain conditions the person must follow, and if not, he or she can be brought to jail.

Must I be released on bail until my trial?

No. Minnesota’s constitution provides for your right to pre-trial release so that you can have a fair chance to defend yourself from criminal charges. The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects a person accused of a crime against the setting of unreasonable bail.

Even though there is a right to pre-trial release, judges have to decide whether it is acceptable in each case. In considering a person’s right to a pre-trial release, judges must decide whether the person is a “danger to the community” or whether the person is at risk of leaving the county or state, among other factors. So, whether you will be released before trial depends on how the judge rules on these factors.

Failure to come to court after being released on bail or on one’s own recognizance is a separate criminal offense. If you fail to come to court when scheduled you may be punished for that crime as well as losing the bail that you posted and having a judge increase your bail amount.

If you cannot make it to court, it may be possible for you to get a court date rescheduled for a good reason. Often, your lawyer can get the date changed if your request is made reasonably far enough before the court date.

ALCOHOL AND DRUGS

What is the legal drinking age? Is it the same in other states?

In Minnesota, the legal drinking age is 21. Persons under 21 may legally drink alcohol only while in their parent’s or guardian’s home and then only if the parent or guardian gives permission and is present. Each state has its own laws regarding legal drinking age. While most states now set that age at 21, there are still some differences among the states.

Is it illegal for a person under 21 to be in places where alcohol is sold?

Under Minnesota state law, it is not illegal for a person under 21 to be on the premises of a place where alcohol is sold as long as the person does not purchase or receive alcohol there. Cities within Minnesota may have their own laws that forbid people under 21 to be in places where alcohol is sold. However, even in those cities, people who are 18 to 20 years old may perform certain work, consume meals, and attend certain social functions at places where alcohol is sold.

How do under-age persons break drinking laws?

Generally, it is against the law for persons under 21 years of age to consume alcohol (unless done in the home of their parents or guardians and only with their permission). It is also illegal for persons under 21 to purchase or attempt to purchase alcohol, to misrepresent their age in order to purchase or consume alcohol, and to have alcohol with the intent to consume it at a place other than at a parent’s or guardian’s home.

What are the penalties for underage drinking?

People who are 18 to 20 years of age who are accused of violating these laws will have their cases handled in adult court. The offense is considered a misdemeanor and if convicted the person will be sentenced accordingly. People under 18 years of age who are accused of violating these laws will have their cases handled in juvenile court.

If a person under the age of 21 is found guilty of using a Minnesota driver’s license or permit to purchase or attempt to purchase alcohol, then the Minnesota Department of Public Safety will suspend the person’s driver’s license for 90 days, regardless of any action taken by a judge.

What are the penalties for drinking and driving if you are under 21?

This issue is discussed in greater detail in the section of this booklet dealing with automobiles and driving.

People under age 18 who are accused of driving under the influence will have their cases handled in juvenile court. If found guilty, persons under the age of 21 will have their driver’s licenses revoked or suspended from 30 days to 1 year depending on the circumstances. The offender may also receive a fine of up to $1,000. Repeat juvenile offenders also have their penalties increased, and juvenile offenses such as this remain a permanent part of their record as an adult.

Persons 18 years of age and older accused of driving under the influence will have their cases handled in adult court. For the first offense, the person may be sentenced to up to 90 days in jail and fined up to $1,000. The person’s driver’s license may be revoked for 90 days or more. A repeat offender may be sentenced for up to seven years in prison and fined up to $14,000. A repeat offender may also have his or her driver’s license revoked or canceled for one year or more.

In both juvenile and adult court, a judge may order chemical dependency treatment as a condition of probation.

Is smoking tobacco illegal for minors?

In Minnesota, it is a petty misdemeanor for any person under the age of 18 to possess or use a tobacco product.

What drug possession is illegal and what are the penalties?

Both state and federal laws make it illegal to possess a wide variety of drugs or controlled substances. The most common illegal drugs include cocaine, heroin, LSD, ecstasy (MDMA), methamphetamine, and marijuana. It can also include many prescriptions medication such as Adderall when possessed or sold without a valid prescription.

The criminal penalties in adult court for being convicted of possessing or selling controlled substances can be severe. The severity of the sentence depends upon the type and amount of drugs involved and the person’s prior criminal record. Persons with a criminal record and persons who sell drugs have a higher chance of going to prison.

The criminal penalties in juvenile court for possessing or selling drugs can include probation or lengthy confinement in a jail-type facility for juveniles.

If you are traveling outside the United States, be aware that the laws of many other nations are often more restrictive and the penalties for possession more severe.

Is marijuana considered in the same category as other drugs?

In some cases, no. Under Minnesota law, it is a petty misdemeanor if a person has less than 42.5 grams (about 1.5 ounces) of marijuana. The person would not be arrested and would not have to go to jail.

The offender may have to pay a fine of up to $300. If you are in a car, however, it is a misdemeanor to be in possession of anything more than 1.4 grams (about .05 ounces) of marijuana, unless it is in the trunk of the car or in a similar area inaccessible to passengers.

It is a felony to be in possession of more than 1.5 ounces of marijuana or to sell, or to possess with intent to sell, any amount of marijuana. As in other cases, if convicted of a crime, the sentence imposed in a marijuana case will depend upon the amount of marijuana involved and the person’s prior criminal record.

Can anyone order a chemical dependency evaluation or order me into treatment?

Any interested person can go to court and file a Petition for Civil Commitment as chemically dependent. By doing this, the person is asking that a judge order someone to go through a chemical dependency treatment program. In order for a judge to issue such an order, the petitioner must be able to prove that because of using alcohol or other drugs, the person cannot take care of himself or herself or that the person has recently acted in a way that shows a danger to self or others as a result of chemical dependency. That person has a right to ask the judge at the hearing to dismiss the petition for commitment, or allow voluntary treatment instead. The person is entitled to be represented by a lawyer.

In the criminal area, any person found guilty of a crime in adult or juvenile court can be ordered by a judge to go into chemical dependency treatment as a condition of probation, if the person is placed on probation. If sentenced to prison, the prison authorities may order treatment as a condition of early release from prison.

In juvenile court, a judge can order a person under age 18 to go into treatment if the person is a “child in need of protection or services.” Generally, this means that the person has been abandoned, neglected, or abused. Again, the person has a right to a hearing and to have a lawyer.

SEX AND THE LAW

What is sexual assault?

While there is no legal definition for sexual assault, the phrase generally refers to many types of criminal sexual conduct.

There are different kinds of sex crimes. It is a crime to force someone to have sexual contact or sexual penetration. Generally, sexual contact means touching a person’s intimate parts or the clothing over the area of the intimate parts. Sexual penetration includes any intrusion into the genital or anal opening of the victim’s body. To coerce means to use force or to cause fear of harm. Even if there is no coercion used, sexual contact is a crime if the person does not agree to it. There are some exceptions such as an accidental touching, or other circumstances where there is no intent.

It is a crime to have sexual penetration or sexual contact with a person under 13 years of age if you are 3 years older than the person. It is not a defense to say there was a mistake about the minor’s age or that the minor agreed to it. It is also a crime to have sexual penetration or sexual contact with a minor at least 13 but less than 16 years of age when the person is more than two years older than the victim. In this case, it is still not a defense to say that the minor agreed, but a mistake about age might be a defense.

It is a crime to have sexual penetration or sexual contact with someone under 18 years of age if the person is more than four years older than the victim and is in a position of authority over the victim. “Position of authority” means having some responsibility for the supervision of the victim. It is not a defense to say there was a mistake of age or that the victim agreed.

Finally, it is a crime to have sexual penetration or sexual contact with a person under 18 years of age if the person has a significant relationship to the victim. Significant relationship generally means being related by blood, marriage, or adoption, such as: parent, sibling, first cousin, aunt, uncle, grandparent, great-grandparent, great uncle, and great aunt. Here again, it is not a defense to claim there was a mistake of age or that the victim agreed.

What does consent mean?

Consent means a voluntary agreement to perform a particular sexual act. The law states that consent is words or overt actions by a person that mean they freely agree now to perform a particular sex act. Even if there was a past or current relationship between the people, it does not mean that consent is given for another instance of the sex act. Also, even if the victim did not resist the sexual act, it does not mean they consented to it. Under the law, the victim does not have to prove that consent was not given.

What are the penalties for sex crimes?

The criminal penalties in adult court are severe. Repeat offenders or any offender found guilty of a sexual penetration crime faces a high possibility of going to prison. The criminal penalties in juvenile court can include probation or being sent to a jail-type facility. Any person found guilty of criminal sexual conduct may be ordered to go to sex offender treatment as a condition of probation or in order to get an early release from prison; and must register with the state as a convicted sex offender.

Are the laws the same if the victim is a man or a woman?

The gender of the victim makes no difference.

Can sexual assault occur within a marriage?

Yes. In Minnesota, sexual assault can occur between people who are married. For the person charged with the sexual assault, it is not a defense to say that the victim is a spouse.

Are there other kinds of sexual crimes?

Yes.  The following sex crimes are regularly prosecuted in Minnesota.

  • Prostitution (offering or agreeing to have sex for money)
  • Receiving profits from prostitution
  • Incest (sexual intercourse with certain family members)
  • Bestiality (sex with an animal)

Adultery (sexual intercourse between a married woman and a man not her husband) and fornication (sexual intercourse between a man and an unmarried woman-even if they both consent) are technically crimes, though they are rarely charged or prosecuted.

If you are an undocumented immigrant and are a victim of a sex crime, you should contact an attorney immediately.  Various forms of immigration relief may be available for you.

What is date rape?

In Minnesota, there is no legal definition for date rape. The phrase “date rape” generally refers to a sex crime committed by someone who knows the victim.

Where should a victim of a sex crime make a report?

Reports of sex crimes should be made directly to the police. Generally, persons who have been raped should seek immediate medical attention, in part to provide an opportunity for medical personnel to collect potential evidence of rape (including a rape kit).

Reports of sexual abuse against children can be made to police, to any medical professional, any social worker, psychologist, psychiatrist, teacher, school counselor, or member of the clergy. All of these people are required by law to report the sexual abuse to an appropriate government agency. These agencies are required by law to report the abuse to the police.

What if I’m not ready to report my assault?

There are various agencies who can help you handle the ramifications for being a victim of sexual assault.  The Sexual Violence Center provides assistance through crisis, counseling, support groups, and legal advocacy.  They can be contacted at (612)871-5111.  Other supportive agencies include Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women, and RapeHelpMn.Org.

What happens when a victim reports a sex crime?

After the police have been contacted, they will conduct an investigation. Social service agencies and the courts can also take actions designed  to protect the victim such as limiting or preventing any contact between the person accused of the sex crime and the victim.

What is a Mandatory Reporter?

All adults are encouraged to notify child protection or law enforcement agencies when they suspect that a minor is in danger; however, it is mandatory for professionals who work with children or families to report suspected child abuse or neglect.    This reporting is mandatory for adults working in health care, child care, social services, mental health, education, law enforcement, and court services who suspect that a child is currently being neglected or abused, or has been neglected or abused in the past three years.

Have more questions?

Use the Online Self-Referral option to set up an appointment with an attorney by clicking here, or visit LawHelpMN to read articles drafted by some of our partnering agencies: LawHelpMN: Criminal.