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Consent in Minnesota

Consent is a hot topic, and for a good reason. It seems like every other week, celebrity cases of sexual harassment and failure to heed consent make headlines. However, consent affects much more than Hollywood and the big screen. Every single person has the right to withhold or give consent. Therefore, maintaining an understanding of consent is crucial to you and your wellbeing.

Legal definitions of terms like rape, sexual assault, sexual abuse, and consent differ in each state. Therefore, it is important to note that while these guidelines may overlap with those of other states’, more in-depth research should be done as to the laws of each state.

In Minnesota, consent is “words or overt actions by a person indicating a freely given present agreement to perform a particular sexual act with the actor. Consent does not mean the existence of a prior or current social relationship between the actor and the complainant or that the complainant failed to resist a particular sexual act.”

Other aspects of Minnesota consent include:

  • Consent does not equal a failure to resist a particular sexual act (someone’s silence about a sexual act does not necessitate consent)
  • Consent cannot be given by a mentally incapacitated or physically helpless person (physically helpless people are: incapacitated or unable to withhold or withdraw consent because of a physical condition, or intoxicated to the point of becoming mentally incapacitated or physically helpless)
  • Consent is not a defense regarding sexual acts perpetrated by therapists, clergy, correctional officers and special transportation provider.

Age & Consent

  • At younger than 13 years old, consent is only a defense if the actor is within 36 months of his or her age
  • At 13, 14, or 15 years old, consent is only a defense if the actor is within 24 months of his or her age
  • The age of consent is 16 years and older in Minnesota. However, if the complainant is 16 or 17 years of age and the other actor has a significant relationship with complainant or in a position of authority over complainant, consent is not a defense

Consent can be a tricky concept to understand when discussed in the criminal concept. This means many accusations of sexual crimes must be fleshed out in court to determine if a violation of Minnesota law has occurred. A judge or jury is the person who ultimately determines if someone gave consent before a sexual act took place. This determination based on the facts is critical to a case’s outcome. Hiring an experienced criminal defense law firm is so crucial in having your side of the story heard.

If you or a loved one have been accused of sexual misconduct, call (612) 444-5020 now for a free case consultation.


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