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What Counts as Sexual Assault?

Sexual Assault Awareness Month 2021: Meaning, Statistics & Penalties

April is sexual assault awareness month. As such, there is no better time to discuss Wisconsin’s laws, penalties, and examples regarding sexual assault. Now more than ever, reported victims of this crime are speaking up. Celebrities, political figures, and other highly-publicized figures are often accused of sex crimes as you may have seen on the news, so you are just as vulnerable to these types of allegations.

Knowledge is power. You should learn what sexual assault means and the consequences you could face if accused or convicted of this crime. Not only could this deter you from committing such offense but inform you of what your future may look like if you get convicted of sexual assault.

Different Types of Sexual Assault

Sexual assault refers to sexual contact or intercourse that occurs without the victim’s consent. Forms of sexual assault include:

  • Rape
  • Date rape
  • Marital rape
  • Fondling or unwanted sexual touching
  • Forcible sodomy
  • Forcible object penetration
  • Sexual exploitation
  • Forcing a victim to perform sexual acts
  • Incest

What Is Consent?

As mentioned earlier, sexual assault is nonconsensual sexual contact or intercourse. So, what is consent?

In Wisconsin, “consent” is defined as words or overt actions by a person who is competent to give informed consent indicating a freely given agreement to have sexual intercourse or sexual contact. In other words, if a person explicitly says “yes” to a sexual act or openly and obviously expresses their agreement through actions, they are deemed to have given their consent. It’s important to know that the age of consent is 18 in Wisconsin, therefore, a person cannot legally give their consent to sexual acts if they are below age 18.

You can better understand what consent looks like by looking at the examples below:

  • Saying “yes” when asked to have sex or try a different sexual act
  • Asking permission before changing the type of sexual activity
  • Offering positive feedback when you feel comfortable with a sexual act
  • Telling your partner they can stop at any time
  • Checking-in to see if your partner is still okay with an activity
  • Ensuring your partner is over 18 before engaging in consensual sexual activity
  • Evaluating your partner’s body language and other physical cues to ensure they are comfortable (note: Physiological responses such as an erection or lubrication are involuntary and do not always indicate consent)

Sexual Assault Laws in Wisconsin

Now that you’re aware of what sexual assault and consent look like, we will go over Wisconsin’s sexual assault laws and penalties. The degrees of sexual assault depend on the type and amount of force used and the harm done to the victim.

First-degree sexual assault

  • Sexual intercourse or sexual contact without consent that inflicts great bodily harm or pregnancy
  • Sexual intercourse or sexual contact without consent by using or threatening to use a dangerous weapon
  • Sexual intercourse or sexual contact by use of threat of force or violence and without consent and while aided or abetted by one of more persons
  • Sexual intercourse or sexual contact, with or without consent, with a person under 13

First-degree sexual assault is a class B felony punishable by up to 60 years in prison and a fine to be determined by the judge.

Second-degree sexual assault

  • Sexual intercourse or sexual contact without consent through the use or threat of violence
  • Sexual intercourse or sexual contact without consent which causes injury, including illness, disease or impairment of a sexual or reproductive organ, or mental anguish requiring psychiatric care
  • Sexual intercourse or sexual contact with a person known by the perpetrator to be unconscious or mentally ill or under the influence of an intoxicant which renders that person incapable of appraising the person’s conduct
  • Sexual intercourse or sexual contact without consent while aided by one or more persons
  • Sexual intercourse or sexual contact by a correctional staff member with an incarcerated person
  • Sexual intercourse or sexual contact by a supervising officer with a person who is on probation, parole, or extended supervision
  • Sexual intercourse or sexual contact by a licensee, employee, or nonclient resident of an entity with a client of such entity
  • Sexual intercourse or sexual contact, with or without consent, with a person under 16

If convicted of this Class C felony, you may suffer a maximum of 40 years in prison and/or up to $100,000 fines.

Third-degree sexual assault

  • Sexual intercourse with a person without consent
  • Sexual contact with intentional penile ejaculation or emission of urine or feces with a person without their consent

Sexual assault in the third degree is a Class G felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or $25,000 fines.

Fourth-degree sexual assault

  • Having sexual contact with a person without their consent

This crime is a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to 9 months in prison and/or $10,000 fines.

A Look at the Numbers

With all this information in mind, we want to emphasize the importance of sexual assault awareness. As a defender of the accused, our attorney believes that education and awareness can help deter people from committing sexual assault, which is a highly common offense.

To demonstrate just how common it is, take a look at the numbers below:

  • Nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men in the US have been raped at some time in their lives, including completed forced penetration, attempted forced penetration, or alcohol/drug-facilitated completed penetration.
  • The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that in 2018, 37% of the total violent victimization experienced was rape, sexual assault, robbery, or aggravated assault
  • A 2015 report by the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey reveals the following:
  • About 1 in 14 men in the US attempted or completed penetration against someone else at some point in their life
  • A majority of female victims of completed or attempted rape were victimized early in life, with 81.3% reporting that it occurred before age 25
  • The majority of male victims of attempted or completed rape reported that it first occurred before age 25
  • The self-reported incidents of rape or sexual assault more than doubled from 1.4 victimizations per 1,000 persons over age 12 in 2017 to 2.7 in 2018

Facing sexual assault allegations? You are innocent until proven guilty, and we will fight to maintain your innocence. Give our criminal defense lawyer a call at (414) 882-8382 to schedule a consultation!