Are you struggling to recover as the survivor of a traumatic sexual assault or case of child sexual abuse? Our Wisconsin sexual assault victims' rights lawyers can help you understand your legal rights and answer questions like:
- How can I get justice for my loved one?
- Who can be held liable for sexual crimes?
- What types of damages could we recover in a lawsuit?
Our lawyers understand how difficult it is to move on after a sexual assault. We're here to help.
Our lawyers are prepared to stand up for the rights of sexual abuse victims when others fail them.
"Thank you." They treated us with compassion and made sure we got the help we were looking for.
Victims of sexual assault cope with their trauma in different ways. While it's normal for survivors to hesitate to report the crime in an effort to put the bad experience behind them, many others find solace in knowing that the person who violated them will be put behind bars before they can hurt others. If you've become the victim of sexual violence in Wisconsin and you're wondering how state laws could influence the prosecution of the offender, you can find summaries of these laws here. But remember that sexual assault laws frequently change, so you may need to discuss your case with an experienced Wisconsin sexual abuse victims' lawyer to get a clearer picture.
How Civil Courts Can Help Victims
In the aftermath of a sexual crime, it's absolutely vital for the police, prosecutors, and other investigators to do all that they can to arrest and convict the person responsible. But the criminal justice system is mainly focused on punishing offenders and removing them from society. The civil court system allows victims to demand accountability from third parties (such as a youth organization that covered up or failed to prevent sexual abuse), get financial support, and hold offenders accountable when criminal courts fail to convict.
Our nationwide victims' rights lawyers have experience on both sides of this process. Founding partner Brian Kent has a background as a prosecutor of sexual predators, but has shifted to the civil side in an effort to do more for victims. If you want to find out more about your family's legal options, get in touch with us today for a free consultation.
Wisconsin Criminal Statutes On Child Sexual Abuse
Wisconsin has several laws and criminal statutes that are used to prosecute sexual predators who abuse children:
Sexual Assault Of A Child
In Wisconsin, sexual assault against children can be prosecuted in either the first or second degree:
A person can be found guilty of first-degree sexual assault of a child if they do any of the following:
- Has sexual intercourse or sexual contact with someone who is younger than 13 years old and causes great bodily harm to the victim - a Class A felony with a mandatory minimum of 25 years in prison
- Has sexual intercourse with someone who is younger than 12 years old - a Class B felony punishable by a 25-year mandatory minimum sentence
- Has sexual intercourse with someone who is younger than 16 years old by the use or threats of force or violence - a Class B felony
- Has sexual contact with a person who is younger than 16 through by use or threat of force or violence - a Class B felony with a 5-year mandatory minimum
- Any sexual contact with a person who is younger than 13 years old is also a Class B felony
Anyone who has sexual contact or sexual intercourse with someone under 16 years old, in the absence of any of the circumstances listed under first-degree, is guilty of second-degree sexual assault of a child. This Class C felony is punishable by up to 40 years in prison and maximum fines of up to $100,000.
Engaging In Repeated Acts Of Sexual Assault Of The Same Child
Instances of repeated sexual abuse against the same victim are prosecuted under this statute. Repeat offenders can be charged with either a Class A, B, or C felony - depending on which laws they have a history of violating. Sentences for this offense range from a maximum of 40 years in prison for a Class C felony t life in prison for the Class A felony charge.
Sexual Exploitation Of A Child
A person can be charged with sexual exploitation of a child if they engage in any of the following behaviors:
- Employs, uses, persuades, induces, entices, or coerces a child to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of recording or displaying the conduct
- Records or displays a child engaged in sexually explicit conduct
- Produces, performs in, profits from, promotes, imports, reproduces, advertises, sells, distributes, or possesses with intent to sell or distribute, any recording of a child engaging in sexually explicit conduct
- As the person responsible for the child's welfare, knowingly permits the child to engage in sexually explicit conduct for a purpose described above
In most cases, this crime is a Class C felony punishable by up to 40 years in prison and fines up to $100,000. If the perpetrator was under 18 years old at the time of the offense, the charge will be a Class F felony punishable by up to 18.5 years in prison and maximum fines of $25,000.
Sexual Intercourse With A Child 16 Or Over
This law is used to prosecute what other states might call statutory rape. Any adult who engages in a child who is over 16 but under 18 years old can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of 2 years, 9 months in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
Incest With A Child
A person can be charged with incest with a child if they engage in any of the following conduct:
- Has sexual contact or sexual intercourse with a child that he or she knows is related by a degree closer than 2nd cousin
- Has sexual contact or sexual intercourse with a stepchild
- Is a person responsible for the child's welfare and is aware that a close relative of the child has had or intends to have sexual intercourse or sexual contact with the child, but fails to take action.
This Class C felony is punishable by up to 40 years in prison.
Wisconsin is one of 48 states which requires professionals who have regular contact with children to immediately report any suspicions of abuse or neglect. Some examples of mandated reporters in Wisconsin include:
- Healthcare professionals
- Mental health professionals
- Social workers
- Therapists, psychologists, and counselors
- School employees
- Childcare workers
- Law enforcement personnel
- Emergency responders
- Religious clergy
When a mandated reporter fails to meet their obligation to report suspected child abuse or neglect, they (and potentially their employer) could face liability if the victim's family chooses to file a sexual abuse lawsuit.
General Sexual Assault Laws In Wisconsin
In Wisconsin, all sexual offenses involving adult victims are classified under one of four degrees of sexual assault:
A person is guilty of sexual assault in the first degree if they have sexual contact or sexual intercourse with another person without that person's consent under any of the following circumstances:
- Causes pregnancy or great bodily harm to the victim
- Through the use or threat of use of a dangerous weapon or anything the perpetrator has represented as a deadly weapon
- Is aided or abetted by one or more other people while engaging in nonconsensual sexual contact or intercourse
This Class B felony is punishable by up to 66 years in prison.
A person is guilty of sexual assault in the second degree if they engage in nonconsensual sexual contact or intercourse under any of the following circumstances:
- By use or threat of use of force or violence
- Causes an injury, illness, disease, or impairment of a sexual or reproductive organ, or mental anguish requiring psychiatric care for the victim
- The victim suffers from a mental illness or deficiency which makes them temporarily or permanently incapable of understanding the conduct, and the defender knows about this condition
This Class C felony is punishable by up to 40 years in prison and fines up to $100,000.
Anyone who has sexual intercourse with another person without that person's consent, without any of the circumstances listed under first or second-degree sexual assault, is guilty of third-degree sexual assault.
This Class G felony is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and maximum fines of $10,000.
Anyone who engages in sexual contact with another person without their consent and without any of the circumstances listed under first, second, or third-degree sexual assault is guilty of fourth-degree sexual assault.
This offense is a Class A misdemeanor.
Protecting Your Rights As The Survivor Of Sexual Violence
If you're looking for answers, justice, and support as the survivor of sexual violence, our experienced Wisconsin sexual assault lawyers want to help. We can help determine all negligent parties who may have been able to prevent the crime from occurring and build a case for holding them liable in civil court. Contact us today to begin your fight for justice.