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Minnesota Prohibited Consensual Sexual Activity Laws

For the most part, consensual sexual activity is none of the government's business. Sexual assault, rape, and other such sex crimes all involve non-consensual sex and are thus considered serious violations. However, there are some situations where consensual sex crosses the line and either endangers another's well-being or disrupts the public.

This article provides a brief overview of Minnesota laws prohibiting certain consensual and non-consensual sex acts. Keep in mind that "consent" is a legal term defined by state criminal law. For example, it is impossible for anyone under the age of 16 to consent to sexual activity in Minnesota.

The History of Prohibited Consensual Sex Acts

While any kind of non-consensual sex is a crime, most states at one time enforced anti-sodomy laws aimed at singling out same-sex couples. However, these laws were struck down in Lawrence v. Texas (2003), and were found to be unconstitutional and therefore unenforceable.

Some sex acts remain criminalized under state laws, particularly when they involve unwitting third parties in an offensive or shocking manner. For instance, engaging in sexual acts in public (or even in private, if the act is visible to others) or exposing your genitals in public are considered illegal under most state laws.

Minnesota Prohibited Consensual Activity Laws: At a Glance

Additional information about Minnesota's laws prohibiting certain types of consensual sexual activity can be found in the following table. See FindLaw's Sex Crimes section to learn more about prohibited non-consensual sex acts.

Sodomy Laws Applicable to

There are no longer anti-sodomy laws in Minnesota.

Penalty for Sodomy

There is no penalty for sodomy in Minnesota

HIV Exposure and Compelled Testing for Offenders

Under § 609.2241 of the Minnesota Statutes, if the crime involved sexual penetration with another person without having first informed the other person that they have a communicable disease, or if the crime involved the transfer of blood or sperm (except for medical research), the victim may request the convicted sex offender to undergo an HIV or other STI test.

Other Crimes Relating to Consensual Sex Acts

  • Indecent exposure: Under § 617.23, a person who commits indecent exposure is guilty of a misdemeanor. However, the person is guilty of a felony and may be sentenced to imprisonment for up to five years or payment of a fine of not more than $10,000, or both, if the person has been previously convicted or if the person intentionally confines another. However, there is an express exception for women breastfeeding children. For more information, visit FindLaw's article on Minnesota Indecent Exposure Laws.
  • Public masturbation: Under § 609.3451, if a person engaged in masturbation or lewd exhibition of their genitals in the presence of a minor and knows they are present, this is considered criminal sexual conduct in the fifth degree.
  • Prostitution: Under § 609.322, the penalties for prostitution depend on the defendant's involvement in the sex-for-hire operation. The penalties vary up to 25 years of imprisonment or a fine of up to $50,000, or both.

Other Crimes Relating to Non-consensual Sex Acts

  • Rape and sexual assault: Criminal sexual conduct in Minnesota may be in the first-degree, second-degree, third-degree, fourth-degree, or fifth-degree, depending on the facts of the crime. The penalties vary for each. For more information, visit FindLaw's article on Minnesota Rape and Sexual Assault Laws.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Research the Law

Minnesota Prohibited Consensual Sexual Activity Laws: Related Resources

Charged with a Sex Crime in Minnesota? Let an Attorney Help You

Criminal prosecution for a sex crime can have serious consequences for a defendant. If you have been arrested for a sex crime, you may want to consider contacting an experienced criminal defense attorney. If you cannot afford to hire an attorney, you still have the right to counsel and the public defender's office in your county will be able to assist you.

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