What is the Romeo and Juliet Law in MN?
8 months ago by Brian
The so-called Romeo and Juliet laws exist in jurisdictions all over the United States and allow people to legally have consensual sex with minors when they are not more than a given number of years older, usually four years or less.
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming all have such Romeo and Juliet laws.
But Minnesota does not and anybody accused of a statutory rape crime will want to speak to a Minnesota criminal defense attorney.
How the Age of Consent applies in Minnesota
The result is that Minnesota has an age of consent that is 16 years of age, meaning that a person who is only a couple of years older, such as 18 years of age, could face statutory rape charges if they engage in consensual sex with the minor.
Statutory rape laws usually intend to protect alleged victims from being taken advantage of by older adults who may coerce consent, so the idea that a young adult could face prosecution for being in a relationship with a younger person disturbs many people.
Age of Consent Law Violations
While a minor who is between 13 and 16 years of age can lawfully consent to sex with a person two years older than them, an adult who engages in sexual conduct with a child four years younger can face charges of statutory rape.
In Minnesota, this criminal offense is known as criminal sexual conduct, and the crime has five degrees.
The different criminal sexual conduct degrees involve the following considerations:
Criminal Sexual Conduct in the First Degree, Minnesota Statue § 609.342 — Minnesota law defines this degree of criminal sexual misconduct as any form of statutory rape involving penetration, including oral, anal, or vaginal sex.
A crime is first-degree criminal sexual misconduct if an alleged victim is less than 13 years of age and an alleged offender is more than 3 years older.
The alleged victim is between 13 years of age and 16 years of age, and an alleged offender is four years older than an alleged victim and in a position of authority over the alleged victim.
The alleged victim was in fear of physical harm to themselves or feared for another person, the alleged offender carried a dangerous weapon.
The alleged victim was mentally or physically impaired, the alleged offender used force or coercion, or the alleged offender was related to the victim in some significant way and the alleged victim was under 16 years of age.
Criminal Sexual Conduct in the Second Degree, Minnesota Statue § 609.343 — This crime involves sexual contact and an alleged victim is less than 13 years of age and the alleged offender is more than three years older.
The alleged victim is at least 13 but less than 16 years of age and an alleged offender being more than two years older than the alleged offender is in a current or recent position of authority over the alleged victim.
The alleged offender has a significant relationship with the alleged victim and the alleged victim is under 16 years of age when sexual contact occurs.
An alleged offender has a significant relationship with the alleged victim, the minor being under 16 years of age at the time of the sexual contact, and there being an aggravating factor such as coercion.
Criminal Sexual Conduct in the Third Degree, Minnesota Statue § 609.344 — Third-degree criminal sexual conduct applies when an alleged offender engages in sexual penetration with an underage person when an alleged victim is less than 13 years of age, and an alleged offender is not more than three years older.
The alleged victim is between 13 and 15 years of age, and the alleged offender is between two to 10 years older, an alleged offender uses force or coercion.
An alleged victim was mentally or physically incapacitated, an alleged offender has a significant relationship to an alleged victim and an alleged victim was between 16 and 18 years of age.
Or the alleged victim was between 16 and 18 years of age and the alleged offender was at least three years older and in a position of authority over the child.
Criminal Sexual Conduct in the Fourth Degree, Minnesota Statue § 609.345 — An alleged offender who engages in sexual contact with another person commits criminal sexual conduct in the fourth degree if the alleged offender uses coercion to accomplish the sexual contact.
The alleged offender knows or has reason to know that an alleged victim is mentally impaired, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless.
The alleged offender uses force, defined in Minnesota Statue § 609.341.3(2) as attempted infliction, or threatened infliction by an alleged offender of bodily harm or commission or threat of any other crime by the alleged offender against the alleged victim or another.
Causing the alleged victim to reasonably believe that the alleged offender has the present ability to execute the threat, or at the time of the act, the alleged offender is in a prohibited occupational relationship with the alleged victim.
Criminal Sexual Conduct in the Fifth Degree, Minnesota Statue § 609.3451 — An alleged offender commits fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct if they engage in nonconsensual sexual contact or engage in masturbation or a lewd exhibition of genitals in the presence of a minor less than 16 years of age, knowing or having reason to know the minor is present.
Other criminal offenses relating to statutory rape accusations may include communication of sexually explicit materials to children and solicitation of children to engage in sexual conduct under Minnesota Statue § 609.352, criminal sexual predatory conduct under Minnesota Statue § 609.3453, and solicitation of children to engage in sexual conduct under Minnesota Statue § 609.352.
Statutory Rape Defenses
People do have defenses in statutory rape cases that may include:
Mistake of Age — Mistake of age is not an allowable defense to statutory rape or related charges under most Minnesota statutes because the state operates under strict liability, meaning that an alleged offender does not need to have criminal intent.
There are some narrow exceptions for a mistake of age defenses in third-degree and fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct cases.
Innocence — The alleged sexual conduct might simply not have ever occurred.
Illegally-Obtained Evidence — If authorities seized clothing or DNA without a search warrant, an alleged offender may seek to have the evidence deemed inadmissible.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are facing a statutory rape charge or investigation in Minnesota, do not delay in seeking legal counsel.
Woodbury, MN JS Defense will be able to work to try and get your sex crime charges reduced or dismissed.
Our firm understands how even an accusation can be enough to derail a person’s entire life, and we will strive to help you regain some measure of normalcy.
Call us at (651) 362-9426 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation that will allow us to take a much longer look at your case and discuss all of the options that are available to you.