Minnesota -- Age of Consent

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Updated 03-2002:
State court strikes down Minnesota's sodomy law
Minnesota s law that prohibits oral sex and other intimacy between consenting adults is unconstitutional, a state district court judge has ruled.  Judge Delila Pierce said the law, which had been on the books since the 1800s, is unconstitutional because it violates the right of privacy guaranteed by the Minnesota Constitution.  The Minnesota Civil Liberties Union and the American Civil Liberties Union s national Lesbian & Gay Rights Project had filed a lawsuit last summer challenging the sodomy statute on behalf of a cross section of Minnesotans.

The judge ruled on Friday, but the ruling wasn t announced until Monday.  Although the state court ruling should prevent the sodomy law from being enforced anywhere in Minnesota, the MnCLU is asking the court to technically classify the case as a class action. MnCLU attorney Teresa Nelson said that would leave "absolutely no uncertainty" that the law cannot be enforced statewide.  "This is a good day for privacy and fairness in Minnesota," said Charles Samuelson, executive director of the MnCLU. "By inviting the government into every bedroom in the state, this law was clearly unconstitutional -- which is why the court struck it down."

Gov. Jesse Ventura agreed, his spokesman said.  "It s consistent with the governor s philosophy that there are some things the government has no business making laws about," said John Wodele. "He sees this as a welcome decision."   Matt Coles, director of the ACLU s Lesbian and Gay Rights Project, says 35 states, including Minnesota, have had their sodomy laws either repealed by legislatures or struck down by the courts. In 1961, all 50 states had sodomy laws on the books.

"One more down, 15 to go," Coles said after hearing about the Minnesota judge s decision.  "We absolutely are going to stay with it."  Minnesota s law prohibits oral and anal sex between any adults, including married couples and disabled people who cannot engage in any other form of intimacy. Penalties include up to a year in jail and up to $3,000 in fines.

For years, efforts to repeal the law in the state Legislature were unsuccessful. Although sodomy laws are rarely enforced, Coles says they can be used against proponents of domestic partners ordinances and other issues sought by gays and lesbians.  "The people who want to keep the (sodomy) law on the book, there s a method to their madness," Coles said. "The existence of these laws are used to generally delegitimize gays and lesbians in public debate."
Source:  http://cultureandfamily.org/report/2001-07-11/l_mn.shtml
Source:  http://cultureandfamily.org/report/2001-06-14/l_mn.shtml
Source:  http://www.aclu.org/news/2001/n052101c.html
Source:  http://www.webdesk.com/anal-sex-oral-sex-legal/

609.345 Criminal sexual conduct in the fourth degree.

Subdivision 1. Crime defined. A person who engages in sexual contact with another person is guilty of criminal sexual conduct in the fourth degree if any of the following circumstances exists:

(a) the complainant is under 13 years of age and the actor is no more than 36 months older than the complainant. Neither mistake as to the complainant's age or consent to the act by the complainant is a defense. In a prosecution under this clause, the state is not required to prove that the sexual contact was coerced;

(b) the complainant is at least 13 but less than 16 years of age and the actor is more than 48 months older than the complainant or in a position of authority over the complainant and uses this authority to cause the complainant to submit. Consent by the complainant to the act is not a defense. In any such case, it shall be an affirmative defense which must be proved by a preponderance of the evidence that the actor believes the complainant to be 16 years of age or older;

(c) the actor uses force or coercion to accomplish the sexual contact;

(d) the actor knows or has reason to know that the complainant is mentally impaired, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless;

(e) the complainant is at least 16 but less than 18 years of age and the actor is more than 48 months older than the complainant and in a position of authority over the complainant, and uses this authority to cause or induce the complainant to submit. Neither mistake as to the complainant's age nor consent to the act by the complainant is a defense;

(f) the actor has a significant relationship to the complainant and the complainant was at least 16 but under 18 years of age at the time of the sexual contact. Neither mistake as to the complainant's age nor consent to the act by the complainant is a defense;

(g) the actor has a significant relationship to the complainant, the complainant was at least 16 but under 18 years of age at the time of the sexual contact, and:

(i) the actor or an accomplice used force or coercion to accomplish the contact;

(ii) the complainant suffered personal injury; or

(iii) the sexual abuse involved multiple acts committed over an extended period of time.

Neither mistake as to the complainant's age nor consent to the act by the complainant is a defense;

(h) the actor is a psychotherapist and the complainant is a patient of the psychotherapist and the sexual contact occurred:

(i) during the psychotherapy session; or

(ii) outside the psychotherapy session if an ongoing psychotherapist-patient relationship exists.

Consent by the complainant is not a defense;

(i) the actor is a psychotherapist and the complainant is a former patient of the psychotherapist and the former patient is emotionally dependent upon the psychotherapist;

(j) the actor is a psychotherapist and the complainant is a patient or former patient and the sexual contact occurred by means of therapeutic deception. Consent by the complainant is not a defense;

(k) the actor accomplishes the sexual contact by means of deception or false representation that the contact is for a bona fide medical purpose. Consent by the complainant is not a defense; or

(1) the actor is or purports to be a member of the clergy, the complainant is not married to the actor, and:

(i) the sexual contact occurred during the course of a meeting in which the complainant sought or received religious or spiritual advice, aid, or comfort from the actor in private; or

(ii) the sexual contact occurred during a period of time in which the complainant was meeting on an ongoing basis with the actor to seek or receive religious or spiritual advice, aid, or comfort in private.

Consent by the complainant is not a defense.

Subd. 2. Penalty. A person convicted under subdivision 1 may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than ten years or to a payment of a fine of not more than $20,000, or both.

Subd. 3. Stay. Except when imprisonment is required under section 609.346, if a person is convicted under subdivision 1, clause (f), the court may stay imposition or execution of the sentence if it finds that:

(a) a stay is in the best interest of the complainant or the family unit; and

(b) a professional assessment indicates that the offender has been accepted by and can respond to a treatment program.

If the court stays imposition or execution of sentence, it shall include the following as conditions of probation:

(1) incarceration in a local jail or workhouse;

(2) a requirement that the offender complete a treatment program; and

(3) a requirement that the offender have no unsupervised contact with the complainant until the offender has successfully completed the treatment program.

HIST: 1975 c 374 s 6; 1976 c 124 s 9; 1979 c 258 s 14; 1981 c 51 s 4; 1983 c 204 s 4; 1984 c 588 s 8; 1984 c 628 art 3 s 11; 1985 c 24 s 8; 1985 c 286 s 18; 1985 c 297 s 7; 1986 c 351 s 9; 1986 c 444; 1Sp1986 c 3 art 1 s 81; 1987 c 94 s 2; 1989 c 290 art 4 s 15; 1992 c 571 art 1 s 18,19; 1993 c 326 art 4 s 21; 1994 c 636 art 2 s 36

1997  the Office of Revisor of Statutes, State of Minnesota.

 

 

Date Thu, 24 Feb 2000 130446 -0600
To whom it may concern

I'm a college student in Iowa, but I am from Minnesota. I thought that you might like more information on Minnesota's legal codes on sex. The  statute you have on age of consent is correct, but these two other laws are interesting as well.

The first (609.293) is Minnesota's sodomy law which forbids oral and anal intercourse, regardless of circumstances.

The second (609.34) is the fornication law which prohibits sex between non-married people. Basically, the fornication law is not enforced (if it were there would be no need for an age of consent law). Both of these laws, along with some other outdated laws (including the definition and trafic laws for Trackless Trolley Cars in the transportation statutes) are up for repeal in a bill (S.F. No. 1537 - Repealing Various Statutory Provisions) that is going through the state legislature now. Here are the two statutes of interest

Chapter Title CRIMINAL CODE     Section 609.293      Text

609.293 Sodomy.

Subdivision 1. Definition. "Sodomy" means carnally knowing any person by the anus or by or with the mouth.  Subd. 2. Repealed, 1977 c 130 s 10
Subd. 3. Repealed, 1977 c 130 s 10
Subd. 4. Repealed, 1977 c 130 s 10
Subd. 5. Consensual acts. Whoever, in cases not coming within the provisions of sections 609.342 or 609.344, voluntarily engages in or submits to an act of sodomy with another may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than one year or to payment of a fine of not more than $3,000, or both.     HIST 1967 c 507 s 4; 1977 c 130 s 4; 1984 c 628 art 3 s 11

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Chapter Title CRIMINAL CODE     Section 609.34       Text

609.34 Fornication.

When any man and single woman have sexual intercourse with each other, each is guilty of fornication, which is a misdemeanor.  HIST 1967 c 507 s 11; 1971 c 23 s 43

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Special Note When WCCO radio (830 AM) decided to start "Lunch with the Governor" in the summer of 1999, the last call of the first show was from a man asking Gov. Ventura to repeal the sodomy law because "he enjoyed oral sex from his wife" and was tired of having to break the law.

 

RECEIVED BY EMAIL

The two bills promoted by "Repeal all Silly and Senseless Laws" (RSSL) in '99 that would have gotten rid of the sodomy and fornifaction laws in Minnesota did not pass and as far as I can tel got lost some where. The RSSL web site has not been updated since 1999.  A study paid for the the minnesota state legislative on criminal law reccommended getting rid of the state sodomy law, but this study has been buried.

The Minnesota Civil Liberties Union has recently been in the early stages of challenging the sodomy law at the state Supreme Court level. The following is a report from their web site

"C-9822 Sodomy Challenge (Direct)

"This case involves a challenge to the constitutionality of the Minnesota law criminalizing consensual sodomy as a violation of the right to privacy. Kevin Devescovi faced prosecution for engaging in private, consensual, noncommercial, heterosexual sodomy. This was the first such prosecution that the MCLU has been able to find. MCLU Volunteer Attorney Margaret Dow attempted to bring a motion to dismiss the charges, however, before a motion could be heard, Devescovi plead to a lesser charge. The MCLU plans to bring a civil action to seek a declaratory judgment that the law is unconstitutional and an injunction prohibiting the law from being enforced in the future. We are looking for additional plaintiffs from the Gay and Lesbian community as well as individuals whose disabilities prevent them from engaging in sexual conduct that does not violate the Sodomy law."

"Status Seeking additional Plaintiffs"

 

Significant Relationship: A situation in which the actor is:

the complainant's parent, stepparent or guardian;
any of the following by blood, marriage or adoption: brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, first cousin, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, grandparent,
great-grandparent, great-uncle, great-aunt; or
an adult residing, intermittently or regularly, in the same dwelling as the complainant (except complainant's spouse.)

This term replaces the previous term of "intrafamilial relationship" which was more precise but which tended, especially in small communities, to raise a
presumption about the victim's identity.

Source:  (http://www.mncasa.org/manuals_lit/trainingmanual/legal.html)

 

Update 06-23-01:  This is all we know .. no confirmation:
Thursday June 07 09:03 PM EDT
ACLU tries to rid Minnesota of sodomy law
By Barbara Dozetos, Gay.com / PlanetOut.com Network

SUMMARY: Attorneys from the Minnesota affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union (news - web sites) are in court today to ask for guaranteed statewide
application of a recent decision that the state's sodomy law is unconstitutional.   Attorneys from the Minnesota affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union are in court today to ask for guaranteed statewide application of a recent decision that the state's sodomy law is unconstitutional.

Judge Delila Pierce's May 18 ruling in an ACLU-led lawsuit said the sodomy law violated the state's constitutional right of privacy "as applied to private, consensual, non-commercial acts of sodomy by consenting adults." The ACLU now wants the court to technically classify the lawsuit, filed on behalf of seven individuals, as a class action. The organization said it is likely Pierce's decision has already rendered the law unenforceable statewide, but class-action status would guarantee it.

"Any criminal prosecution is brought in the name of the state of Minnesota. And last month, Judge Pierce told the state the law is unconstitutional," ACLU Lesbian and Gay Rights Project director Matt Coles said in a statement. "The state has no good reason to say that it should be unconstitutional for some people, but not everyone."

Pierce's decision called the plaintiffs "a cross section of Minnesotans impacted by the sodomy statute." Violations of the law would keep a divorced gay man from seeing his children or cost a teacher, a doctor and a lawyer their jobs. One plaintiff, a quadriplegic man, said it barred him from the only sexual intimacy he's physically capable of with his wife. Others said conviction under the law would mean losing their homes in rental properties that screen for criminal records.

Attorney General Mike Hatch told the court in a memorandum that the case would not qualify as class action because it would not affect most Minnesotans in the same way as the plaintiffs. Hatch said if the ACLU wants the ruling to affect people beyond the original plaintiffs, it should instead change the original lawsuit to name all of the state's law enforcement agencies as defendants.

Coles called the state's position "nonsense." "The issue here isn't who ought to be sued, but who ought to benefit from the court's ruling that the law is illegal."  Named as a defendant in the case because the executive branch of the government is responsible for enforcing state laws, Gov. Jesse Ventura is pleased with Judge Pierce's ruling. "It's consistent with the governor's philosophy that there are some things the government has no business making laws about," John Wodele, spokesman for Ventura, told the Associated Press after the decision was released in May.

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Sources:   http://www.mncasa.org/manuals_lit/trainingmanual/manualtoc.html#anchor5114602
                    Minnesota Coalition against Sexual Assault Training Manual

 

07-2000 New Source: U.S. statutory rape laws is published on the Web by the National
Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information. The booklet, which
requires Adobe Acrobat to read, is located at:


http://www.calib.com/nccanch/pubs/99statutes/35-SexualOffenses.PDF

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