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Understanding Wisconsin's sex crime laws

People accused of sex crimes in Wisconsin can be subject to severe and long-lasting consequences if convicted on such charges. For this reason, having an understanding of the basic laws governing these forms of criminal charges and their associated penalties can be important.

The Wisconsin state legislature website outlines the basics of four types of sexual assault charges, how they each differ and what the jail or financial sentences may be for each. Details include:

  • First degree sexual assault is a Class B felony that can find defendants facing up to 60 years in jail if convicted. It is the most severe sexual assault charge in Wisconsin. It pertains to allegations of sexual contact or intercourse without consent of the alleged victims that result in pregnancy or extreme physical harm or that use or threaten the use of weapons.
  • Second degree sexual assault is a Class C felony with penalties including up to 40 years in jail, up to $100,000 in fines or some combination of both. Acts similar to those of first degree but that do not result in physical harm or pregnancy may be classified as second degree offenses. The involvement of victims who are impaired in some way such as by mental deficiencies or intoxication can also be included in this class of charges.
  • Third degree sexual assault is a Class G felony that can result in as much as 10 years in jail, fines up to $25,000 or both.
  • Fourth degree sexual assault is a Class A misdemeanor with penalties for convictions including up to nine months in jail and up to $10,000 in fines.

In addition, as noted by the Wisconsin legislative reference bureau, persons convicted of first, second or third degree sex crimes will be required to participate in the state's sex offender registry program.

Many nuances are involved in the differences between different levels of charges for sexual assault crimes. Some examples include the ages of victims and defendants, the involvement of other parties and the alleged use of dangerous weapons.

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