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Sex Crimes in Wisconsin

Sex crimes are considered some of the most heinous crimes in court and among the public. The consequences of a sex crime conviction can be severe, depending on the context of the crime. Even being accused of such a crime can cause damage to a person’s reputation, social life, and more. However, not all sex crime allegations are made accurately or earnestly, which is why experienced legal representation is essential for anyone facing charges.

Types of Sex Crimes in Wisconsin

Many criminal actions fall under the umbrella of the term “sex crime.” Generally speaking, a sex crime occurs when someone commits criminal misconduct of a sexual nature against another person. Certain sex crimes consist of physical harm against another person, and others consist of predatory actions and behaviors. Sex crimes are classified by degrees in the state of Wisconsin based on the severity of the crime itself.

First-Degree Sexual Assault

Anyone charged with first-degree sexual assault will be facing a Class B felony. In Wisconsin, first-degree sexual assault consists of:

  • Sexual contact that is not consensual and leads to pregnancy or other bodily harm against the victim
  • Sexual contact that is not consensual and is forced by threatening the other person with a weapon
  • Sexual contact that is not consensual and is aided or abetted by another person through threats of physical harm
  • Sexual contact through the use of force or violence with a child younger than 16

Anyone convicted of first-degree sexual assault will be required to register as a sex offender for the remainder of their life. The potential penalties include 60 years in prison. However, anyone convicted of first-degree sexual assault with a victim younger than 13 could remain in prison for life.

Second-Degree Sexual Assault

Second-degree sexual assault is an extremely serious charge and is classified as a Class C felony in Wisconsin. This crime is defined generally as making sexual contact or having intercourse with someone without their consent, and specifically covers the following situations:

  • The use of violence or force that does not result in great bodily harm
  • The victim required psychiatric care due to a disease, injury, or illness incurred during the assault
  • The victim was unable to provide consent due to a mental illness or disability
  • The victim was drunk or under the influence of drugs
  • The victim was not conscious at the time of the assault
  • The person who committed the sex crime was aided or abetted by another person or multiple people
  • The person who committed the sex crime was working as a caregiver at a foster home, group home, or specialized healthcare institution

Non-consensual sexual contact with a child younger than 16 can also be considered second-degree sexual assault if there were no threats of violence and the contact did not result in injury to the victim. Anyone convicted of second-degree sexual assault in Wisconsin will be required to register as a sex offender for the remainder of their life. They will also face the possibility of a prison sentence up to 40 years long as well as a $100,000 fine.

Third-Degree Sexual Assault

Sexual assault in the third-degree is a less serious charge in the state of Wisconsin, but anyone convicted will still face serious consequences. Third-degree sexual assault consists of any form of non-consensual sex not outlined in the first- or second-degree charges. It also includes urinating, defecating, or ejaculating on another person. This crime is classified as a Class G felony in the state of Wisconsin. The potential penalties include a prison sentence up to 10 years long as well as a $25,000 fine.

Fourth-Degree Sexual Assault

Sexual assault in the fourth degree is defined as any sexual contact that isn’t intercourse where there is no consent from the victim. This includes any intentional contact that is unwanted and causes gratification or arousal for the defendant. The contact can be made directly or through the victim’s clothing and can include any part of the victim’s body.

Sexual assault in the fourth degree is the least severe sexual assault charge in Wisconsin, and results in a Class A misdemeanor for those who are convicted. The penalties for a Class A misdemeanor include 9 months in prison as well as fines up to $10,000.

Statutory Rape

The state of Wisconsin does not have a specific statute that outlines the definition of statutory rape. However, the age of consent in the state is 18 years old. That means that any person older than 18 who engages in sexual contact with someone younger than 18 could be charged with statutory rape. For example, any person over the age of 19 who engages in consensual sexual contact with someone younger than 16 will be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. This crime could lead to 9 months in prison as well as fines worth up to $10,000.

These are just some of the sex-related crimes a person can receive charges for in the state of Wisconsin. Incest, public fornication, and prostitution are examples of other less common sex crimes a person may be convicted of.

Common Defenses Against Sex Crime Charges

Anyone charged with a sex crime will need a strong defense to fight the charges in court. An experienced and reputable sex crime attorney can help someone develop their defense by obtaining evidence, interviewing witnesses, and more. The defense someone uses in court will be tailored to their specific case. However, there are some defenses that are commonly used in sex crime cases. These defenses could apply to a large number of cases, and most attorneys will investigate them when working with a new client.


Claiming innocence is one of the most basic defenses in a sex crime case, specifically a case of sexual assault. This claim could be made by the defendant using a strong alibi or claiming they could not be the one who committed the crime because they were not in that location at that time. However, anyone who tries to use this defense in court will need to show irrefutable evidence that they were not near the victim when the crime took place. Some defendants also claim that the victim misidentified them when telling authorities who their abuser was. This can be proven in certain cases through DNA evidence. Ultimately, it is the prosecution’s responsibility to prove that the defendant committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. If the defendant is able to show that there is a reasonable doubt, they will likely be acquitted.


Some defendants in sexual assault cases do admit to committing the behavior the case is about but can argue that the victim engaged in the behavior while providing consent. One of the key elements in a sexual assault trial the prosecution must prove is that the behavior in question occurred against the victim’s will. If the defendant is able to prove that there was consent, they can use that as a defense against the charges.

Mental Incapacity or Insanity

Some defendants in sex crime cases may be able to claim that they were suffering from extreme mental illness at the time the crime in question occurred. They may receive more lenient treatment if they can prove they were mentally incapacitated. However, this line of defense could lead to a mandatory stay in a mental health facility if convicted.

Come to Us for a Strong Defense

If you’re facing criminal charges after being accused of a sex crime, contact the Law Offices of Christopher J. Cherella today. Attorney Cherella has the experience to provide you with the strong legal counsel needed to fight sex crime charges. Our goal is to help you protect both your reputation and your freedom. Contact us today at (414) 882-8382 or through our online form to schedule a consultation.