DFL Senators lead in advocacy for legislation to reform Minnesota’s criminal sexual conduct statutes

In March of this year the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in the case State v. Khalil that under current Minnesota law, an individual charged with sexual assault of a person that is mentally incapacitated due to consumption of drugs or alcohol may not be found guilty if the victim is voluntarily intoxicated, due to a poorly written definition found in state statute. This decision received significant media and social media attention and has brought renewed focus to ongoing bipartisan efforts to reform Minnesota’s criminal sexual conduct statutes. Senate DFL members joined House DFL and Republican members for a bipartisan press conference this week to bring attention to legislative solutions proposed in the bill.

During the 2019 legislative session, a bicameral and multidisciplinary working group was formed to deeply examine the criminal sexual conduct statutes. The Criminal Sexual Conduct Statutory Reform Working Group examined the statute in full and has proposed changes that would provide a legislative solution to the mentally incapacitated loophole and other longstanding issues. The changes proposed by the working group are contained in SF 1683 and HF 707- both of which have bipartisan co-authors.

Other provisions in the bill would update and improve the state’s various criminal sexual conduct laws, making the statutes easier to comprehend and follow for the legal community and victims, and improving protections and options available to victims.

The Senate Judiciary Committee adopted an amendment to the Judiciary Omnibus Budget Bill to include the reforms to the criminal sexual conduct statute proposed by the working group. The Republican Committee Chair did not hear the full bill this session and intended to only consider provisions that would resolve flaws in statute related to the Supreme Court case, but Senate DFLers were able to stand in solidarity with stakeholders and victims and get the full language of the recommendations added to the Judiciary’s omnibus budget. The language will move forward as a result and has a path to becoming law before the end of session.

Senate DFLers will continue their fight to ensure it does so. (SF 970, SF 1683/HF 707)