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  • Writer's picturePeter Lindstrom, Esq.

Navigating Second-Degree CSC Charges in Minnesota: An Attorney's Defense Playbook

As a criminal defense attorney in the state of Minnesota, I represent individuals facing the daunting prospect of very serious charges. One of the most serious charges is second-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC). Otherwise called sexual assault. Broadly speaking, this category of offenses is characterized not by allegations of penetration, as in first or third-degree charges, but rather by sexual contact. Such allegations may involve accusations of force, the use of coercion, or situations where the alleged victim is deemed incapable of consent due to various factors like age, mental state, or authority dynamics. CSC charges are extremely complex and speaking with a criminal defense attorney becomes indispensable because there are nuances to most of the 59 plus different ways prosecutors can charge CSC cases.

Understanding Second-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct in Minnesota

Second-degree CSC is a severe offense in Minnesota’s legal landscape, encompassing various acts of sexual contact that are non-consensual or where consent is legally impossible to give. The charge is grave, reflecting the state's commitment to protect individuals from sexual violations that do not involve penetration but are still deeply traumatic and represent serious violations of personal autonomy.

Given the significant penalties, which can include lengthy prison terms and the possibility of being registered as a sex offender, crafting a vigilant defense is essential for anyone accused of this crime.

Defense Strategies for Second-Degree CSC Charges

1. Critical Analysis of the Evidence

The first line of defense is a thorough review of the prosecution’s evidence. This involves challenging the collection methods, chain of custody, and integrity of the evidence. Any procedural missteps or constitutional rights violations can lead to challenging this evidence. A frequent area of consideration is DNA evidence. What evidence is present? And what does the evidence actually show? Just because the State is claiming something doesn't mean that was the DNA evidence is actually showing.

2. Contesting the Accusation of Coercion

In cases involving coercion, the defense may focus on disproving the use of force or intimidation. Witness testimony, communication records, and the behavior of all parties before and after the alleged incident can be critical in refuting coercion claims.

3. Challenging the Capacity to Consent

For charges hinging on the victim's capacity to consent, investigation into the circumstances that created the alleged lack of capacity becomes crucial. If the complaining witness was allegedly intoxicated, how much did they actually drink? If the complaining witness had mental instability, what was the extent of their problems? There’s a difference between adults whose ability to interact with the world is the equivalent of an 8 year old and an adult who manages fine in the world outside of some relatively benign mental health issues. Every case is different.

4. Alibi and Witness Corroboration

Presenting a verifiable alibi is a strong defense if the accused was elsewhere when the alleged contact occurred. Corroborative statements from credible witnesses can fortify an alibi, casting doubt on the prosecution's assertions.

The Attorney-Client Relationship

Central to a strong defense is the attorney-client relationship. In these sensitive cases, clients must feel confident in their attorney's abilities and trust them with the intimate details of their lives. As their attorney, I provide a safe space for open communication, ensuring that clients are informed and involved at every stage.

Plea Negotiations

While I diligently prepare every case with the rigor necessary for trial readiness, I concurrently evaluate the prospects for plea negotiations. This strategic balancing act involves a careful analysis of the prosecution's evidence relative to trial trajectories, with the client's best interests as the guiding principle. The decision to take a plea offer or go to trial is always exclusively the clients.


Defending against second-degree CSC charges in Minnesota requires a nuanced understanding of the law, a strategic approach to the case at hand, and a commitment to upholding the rights of the accused. These cases can turn on the interpretation of actions and intentions, making a robust defense all the more necessary.

For those accused, the importance of seeking experienced and dedicated legal representation at the earliest opportunity cannot be understated. With a skilled defense attorney, the presumption of innocence is zealously guarded, and the defense is presented with vigor and precision. Remember, facing an accusation is only the beginning of a legal battle that demands a strong defensive strategy to ensure that justice is served.

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


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