Perhaps no other crimes in Minnesota have more severe direct and collateral consequences than criminal sexual conduct charges. Most of these offenses are serious felonies, and all of them are crimes of moral turpitude. That means lengthy punishment and lingering employment, lifestyle, and other effects. Sometimes, these effects are crippling.
The good news is that, in most cases, a number of defenses are available to CSC charges. Most of them revolve around a lack of evidence. Proof is often very hard to obtain in these cases. So, if you face CSC charges, do not let the sensationalism frighten you. In many cases, a St. Paul criminal defense lawyer can successfully resolve these charges. Frequently, that resolution involves a quiet out-of-court settlement.
The most serious CSC infraction could mean thirty years in prison or even longer, if some aggravating factors are present. To establish these charges in court, the state must prove both status and conduct, as follows:
All these elements are quite complex, so let’s look at them more closely and see how a St. Paul criminal defense lawyer can refute them.
We probably all know the difference between sexual contact and sexual penetration. To establish penetration, prosecutors often rely on forensic nurses. These “experts” are basically police detectives with nursing licenses. They always believe the complainant, and they always seem to find evidence which supports the complainant’s version of events.
In the Gopher State, Great Bodily Harm is a lot more than force or coercion. According to Section 609.02 of the Minnesota statutes, GBH is “bodily injury which creates a high probability of death, or which causes serious permanent disfigurement, or which causes a permanent or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.” That’s one small step short of killing someone.
Unconsented sex is not easy to prove either. In almost all cases, the complainant and defendant knew each other. So, there’s basically a presumption that sex was consensual, at least in the eyes of most jurors.
This offense, which usually means a maximum twenty-five years in prison, is almost exactly the same as first degree CSC. However, the state need not prove penetration in second-degree cases. So, it’s much more common than first degree CSC.
A brief word about St. Paul criminal defense lawyers and complainants’ ages. A reasonable mistake about age is usually not a defense. If the complainant lied about her age, that’s probably not a defense either. However, these facts could mitigate punishment.
The next lowest form of criminal sexual conduct, which could mean fifteen years in prison, has different elements from first or second degree CSC, as follows:
The “incapacitated” element is usually the one that St. Paul criminal defense lawyers attack most frequently. Commonly, third-degree CSC is a “date rape” offense. Both parties were drinking, and things went off the rails. If the alleged victim drank to the point of incapacitation, the complainant’s memory of the events is probably fuzzy, to say the least. That does not mean the alleged victim lied. It just means her allegations are difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.
This offense is the same as third-degree CSC, but prosecutors must only establish sexual contact, as opposed to sexual penetration.
Sexual contact is easier to prove than penetration, but there are still proof problems. St. Paul criminal defense lawyers cannot question a complainant’s chastity, but credibility is always an issue, as outlined above. And, the more time passes, and the more times the complainant tells the same story, the more memories fade.
That’s assuming this testimony is available at all. Frequently, CSC witnesses lose interest in the case over time. That’s one reason St. Paul criminal defense lawyers often delay these cases as long as possible.
The only misdemeanor CSC offense usually involves unconsented sexual contact or lewd conduct in front of a minor. Frequently, St. Paul criminal defense lawyers are able to reduce these charges to something like reckless conduct. This offense is also a serious misdemeanor. However, it does not have the same collateral consequences as CSC. Such reductions are especially common if the state’s evidence is less than compelling.
CSC charges are frightening, but several defenses are usually available. For a free consultation with an experienced St. Paul criminal defense lawyer, contact Capitol City Law Group, LLC. Go online now, call us at (651) 998-7634, or stop by 287 6th St E, Suite 20, St Paul, MN 55101.