In Minnesota, the age of consent for sex is 16. Generally, this means that as long as both partners are older than 16, any age difference between them does not matter. The age of consent law in Minnesota only applies to heterosexual conduct, and the state currently has no valid statute which sets the age of consent for homosexual conduct.
As in most states, the age difference between the parties in Minnesota is a factor to be considered in statutory rape cases. Regardless of the age of the perpetrator, it is always statutory rape in Minnesota if the victim is under the age of 13. If the person under the age of consent is between 13 and 16 years old, they can legally consent to sex with someone that is less than 48 months (4 years) older than them.
Engaging in sexual contact with someone under the age of 13 while being only 36 months (3 years) older than the victim is criminal sexual conduct in the fourth degree, whereas actual penetration involving the same ages is criminal sexual conduct in the third degree. If the perpetrator is more than three years older than a victim under the age of 13, then sexual contact is criminal sexual conduct in the second degree, and sexual intercourse is criminal sexual conduct in the first degree.
Criminal sexual conduct in the fourth degree has also been committed where a person has engaged in sexual contact with someone between the ages of 13 and 16 while being more than 4 years older than the victim. If sexual intercourse has occurred instead of mere sexual contact, then it is criminal sexual conduct in the third degree.
While “fourth degree” does not sound that bad, criminal sexual conduct in the fourth degree alone carries a potential sentence of up to 10 years in prison in Minnesota. In the worst-case scenario, someone guilty of sexual criminal conduct in the first degree faces a potential sentence of 30 years in prison and a $40,000 fine. Facing a decade or three in prison for statutory rape does not sound pleasant. Thus, it would be smart to contact a criminal lawyer now to have the best chance of avoiding receiving that maximum sentence.