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Defenses to Statutory Rape Charges in Wisconsin


Sexual relations between someone aged 18 or older and someone 17 or younger are classified as “statutory rape” by Wisconsin law. Due to the nature of these charges and the heavy stigma attached to sex crimes, it’s not uncommon for these charges to carry heavy consequences, both legally and outside of your case. That means fighting back with every available option is in your best interests. However, fighting back is also far from easy: the law expressly states that ignorance of a victim’s knowledge is not an acceptable defense, so how can you defend yourself?

The first step should be to retain an experienced and proven Milwaukee sex crimes attorney who can utilize the laws as they are written to put the evidence to work in your favor. This will give you a far better chance at a positive outcome to your case than simply trying to face your charges alone or choosing to plead guilty.

The second step is to review the laws and see where you could possibly be able to defend yourself. Wisconsin is a particularly difficult state for statutory rape cases since there isn’t even a “Romeo and Juliet” exemption. Most states have an exception to their laws for sex between adults and minors who are close in age (usually no more than three years or so max between them). Wisconsin has no such law, which means prosecutors can still choose to press charges against high school sweethearts if one of them happens to be over the legal age limit, even by just a single day. What’s worse is that the alleged victim can’t even choose to decline the charges since they’re under the age of 18.

Marital Exemption

The one exemption that is made by Wisconsin law is for consensual sex between a minor aged 16 or 17, and an adult spouse. In this instance, provided both parties are legally married, they are allowed to consensually engage in sexual behavior, even if the law would have prohibited it if they were not married.

Because statutory rape can carry such heavy consequences, including mandatory lifelong sex offender registration, it’s highly advised you work with an attorney to start developing a strong plan for your defense. Penalties can also include long prison sentences, large fines, and more.

For more information or to retain legal counsel for your case, call the Law Offices of Chrisopher J. Cherella today at 414-882-8382 and ask for a case evaluation!
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