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  • Writer's picturePeter Lindstrom, Esq.

A Defense Attorney’s Guide to Fourth-Degree CSC Charges in Minnesota

In my practice as a criminal defense attorney in Minnesota, individuals charged with fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC) often require a nuanced and dedicated defense approach. Fourth-degree CSC charges differ significantly from other degrees because they typically involve allegations of nonconsensual sexual contact often linked to specific positions of authority or exploitation of trust.

Understanding Fourth-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct in Minnesota

Fourth-degree CSC charges are serious, targeting acts of sexual contact without consent, or where the alleged victim lacked the ability to consent because of age or some other circumstance. There are also specific charge that can involve educators, employers, or other authority figures and can also address situations where the alleged victim is psychologically vulnerable or otherwise incapable of giving consent.

With penalties that can severely impact freedom, reputation, and future opportunities, the importance of a solid defense strategy cannot be overstated.

Defense Strategies for Fourth-Degree CSC Charges

1. Diligent Evidence Review

The cornerstone of any defense is a meticulous examination of the evidence presented by the prosecution. Every aspect of evidence collection and handling is subject to scrutiny to identify any lapses that could undermine the credibility of the evidence or the manner in which it was obtained. DNA evidence can become a crucial aspect of the case. DNA evidence is the gold standard of evidence but it’s crucial to determine if what the State is claiming the evidence is saying what it is actually saying. The devil can be in the details.

2. Assessing Coercion Claims

Claims of coercion against adult complaining witnesses require a careful look at the evidence surrounding the incident.

3. Intent

A sexual or aggressive intent is a required element of the offense. There have been circumstances where sexual abuse has been alleged but investigation reveals that a parent had just been spanking their child. This is a circumstance where it’s undeniable that there was physical contact with what Minnesota calls an “intimate part” of a child. But spanking a child is not a crime unless it’s done with sexual intent or the harm caused to the child meets the requirements for charges of malicious punishment of a child.

4. Establishing Alibi and Witness Support

A substantiated alibi can dismantle the prosecution’s case, while support from credible witnesses can fortify the defense.

The Attorney-Client Relationship

An effective defense in a fourth-degree CSC case is built on the pillars of a strong attorney-client relationship, where confidentiality, openness, and trust are paramount. Recognizing the sensitivity required in these discussions, I ensure a space where clients can share the details of their situation openly, which is instrumental in developing a robust defense.

Plea Negotiations

My approach to each case is methodical, preparing for trial while simultaneously appraising the avenue of plea discussions. By weighing the prosecution's case against all possible trial outcomes, I strive to navigate the course that most aligns with the client's welfare. It’s always your decision to either accept a plea offer or go to trial. But developing and determining what options are available is part of the strategy of putting you in the best position possible to make an informed decision.


Facing a fourth-degree CSC charge in Minnesota is a critical situation demanding skilled representation. My role is to dissect the prosecution's claims, bolster the defense with thorough preparation, and ensure the accused's rights are staunchly protected. The attorney-client relationship is the foundation upon which this defense is built, enabling us to tackle the charges with the full force of the law behind us. For anyone accused, it’s vital to engage with a defense attorney who will prioritize your interests and advocate for your future with every tool at their disposal.

Contact Subzero Criminal Defense and we may be able to start working on your case as soon as today. 651-248-5142. Subzero Criminal Defense provides a defense with intelligence, creativity, and grit.


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