Question: What is child molestation under Wisconsin law?

Answer: If someone is accused of molesting a child in Wisconsin, a wide range of possible charges and penalties could apply. I will go over some of the possibilities; however, this is a complicated area and there are a lot of different permutations of these laws.

The main charge that covers molestation situation is called sexual assault of a child. For a child under the age of 16—so that’s anyone up to age 15—it’s considered sexual assault to have any type of sexual contact, including sexual acts and inappropriate touching that’s done for sexual purposes. Any type of sexual contact with a person under 16 can be charged as a second degree sexual assault of a child, which carries up to a 40-year sentence. Since children under 16 are not legally allowed to consent to sexual activity, it is not a defense to a claim that a child agreed to participate in an activity, and this does come up occasionally with, for example, a 14 or 15 year-old who is dating a 17 or 18 year-old. In that situation, the fact that they may have voluntarily engaged in that relationship does not give the older person a defense.

Now, first degree sexual assault of a child is an even more serious charge than second degree and, depending on the circumstances, different penalties can apply. To give some examples, having sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 12 carries a mandatory prison sentence of 25 years and a maximum of up to 60. Having sexual intercourse with a person between the ages of 12 and 15 by the use or threat of force carries the same possible penalty. And having sexual contact or intercourse with a person under 15, which results in great bodily harm will result in life in prison with no change of release for at least 25 years.

There are other possible variations of these charges, as well as other potential charges that may apply depending on the facts of the case. Being accused of this type of offense is always a life-altering thing. And in some instances, it can literally result in being incarcerated for life. It is extremely important to discuss your case with a competent and experienced attorney as soon as possible.

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