Any person who has been determined by a court to be a “sexually dangerous person”12 may be
involuntarily committed under this law. Minn. Stat. § 253B.185.

The Definition of a Sexually Dangerous Person

There are three elements to the definition of “sexually dangerous person.”

  • First, it must be demonstrated that the person has engaged in a course of “harmful sexual conduct” in the past. Sexual conduct is “harmful” if it creates a substantial likelihood of causing serious physical or emotional harm to another person. Certain crimes are presumed to cause such harm, unless proven otherwise in a particular case. For example, felony-level criminal sexual conduct crimes are presumed to qualify as “harmful sexual conduct.” Additionally, a number of other violent crimes are presumed to be “harmful sexual conduct” when they are motivated by the person’s sexual impulses or are part of a pattern of behavior that has criminal sexual conduct as its goal. These crimes include murder, manslaughter, felony-level assault, robbery, kidnapping, false imprisonment, incest, witness tampering, arson, first-degree burglary of a dwelling, terroristic threats, and felony-level harassment and stalking.
  • Second, it must be shown that the person has manifested a sexual, personality, or other mental disorder or dysfunction.
  • Third, it must be proven that, as a result of this mental disorder or dysfunction, the person is likely to engage in future acts of harmful sexual conduct.

The law does not require proof that the person is unable to control his or her sexual impulses; rather, it is enough to establish the likelihood of future harmful sexual conduct due to the person’s mental disorder or dysfunction. Minn. Stat. § 253B.02, subds. 7a and 18c.

11 Minnesota law contains a second civil commitment law applicable to sexually dangerous persons, known as the “psychopathic personality” commitment law. It was enacted in the 1930s and has been replaced, from a practical standpoint, by the sexually dangerous persons civil commitment law. It remains on the books, however, because there are individuals in state treatment facilities who were originally committed pursuant to the older law and remain subject to that commitment. Minn. Stat. 1992, § 526.10.

12 Minnesota Statutes, section 253B.185, also mentions “persons with a sexual psychopathic personality” as being subject to these provisions, but for the purposes of this summary, “sexually dangerous persons” will be the focus.


CREDIT: The content of this and any related posts has been copied or adopted from the Minnesota House of Representatives Research Department’s Information Brief, Sex Offenders and Predatory Offenders: Minnesota Criminal and Civil Regulatory Laws, written by Legislative Analyst Jeffrey Diebel.

This post is also part of a series of posts on Minnesota Criminal and Civil Regulatory Laws Regarding Sex Offenders and Predatory Offenders.