Under Wisconsin law the penalties for sexual assaulting a minor or committing an act of statutory rape are severe and include incarceration, significant fines, as well as potential psychiatric treatment and the payment of restitution. In fact, Governor Tommy Thompson added a protective layer of security during his term by creating a “two strikes, you’re out” provision for serious child sex offenders. Any person convicted of a second sexual assault against a child will be sentenced to life in prison without parole.
National studies estimate that up to 500,000 children are sexually abused in this country every year. One in four females and one in seven males will experience some form of sexual abuse prior to age 18. In July 1997, the Wisconsin Office of Justice Assistance Statistical Analysis Center generated the following facts:
- In 1996 eighteen percent of all sexual assault offenses (1089) were statutory rape.
- The average victim age was 14, as was the median; and the average offender age was 19, with a median of 17.
- Statutory rape offenders were arrested in 66 percent of the cases.
- Eighty-seven percent of arrested offenders were referred to criminal or juvenile court.
- One-tenth of one percent of the cases reported (seven) were cases of ejaculation/excretion upon the victim.
- The average victim age was 16.
- The average offender age was 27.
- One hundred percent of arrested offenders were referred to criminal court.
Clearly, child sexual abuse is a serous problem. Often the seriousness of the offense places pressure on law enforcement to make an arrest. A lack of training for officers also often results in tainted investigations that target the wrong person as a defendant or implant children with false memories prompting them to inaccurately identify their assailant.
Wisconsin State Statute Chapter 948 codifies sexual assault and other crimes that are committed against children.
- 948.02 Sexual assault of a child.
(1)First degree sexual assault. Whoever has sexual contact or sexual intercourse with a person who has not attained the age of 13 years is guilty of a Class B felony. The penalty imprisonment not to exceed 40 years.
(2) Second degree sexual assault. Whoever has sexual contact or sexual intercourse with a person who has not attained the age of 16 years is guilty of a Class BC felony. The penalty is imprisonment not to exceed 20 years or a fine not to exceed $10,000, or both. If a person commits 3 or more violations under this section within a specified period of time involving the same child the offense is upgraded to a Class B felony with the penalty of imprisonment not to exceed 40 years. A jury, in order to find the defendant guilty of three violations, must unanimously agree that at least 3 violations occurred within the time period applicable but need not agree on which acts constitute the requisite number.
(3) Failure to act. A person responsible for the welfare of a child who has not attained the age of 16 years is guilty of a Class C felony if that person has knowledge that another person intends to have, is having or has had sexual intercourse or sexual contact with the child, is physically and emotionally capable of taking action which will prevent the intercourse or contact from taking place or being repeated, fails to take that action and the failure to act exposes the child to an unreasonable risk that intercourse or contact may occur between the child and the other person or facilitates the intercourse or contact that does occur between the child and the other person.
(3m) Penalty enhancement; sexual assault by certain persons. If a person violates either paragraph 1 or 2 above and the person is responsible for the welfare of the child who is the victim of the violation, the maximum term of imprisonment may be increased by not more than 5 years.
- 948.09 Sexual Intercourse With A Child Age 16 Or Older -- Sexual intercourse with a person 16 or 17 years old is a misdemeanor, the penalty for which is imprisonment not to exceed 9 months or a fine not to exceed $10,000, or both.
- 948.095 Sexual Assault of a Student by a School Instructional Staff Person -- Sexual intercourse or sexual contact with a child who is at least 16 years old who is enrolled as a student in a school or school district in which the assailant is a member of the school or school district staff. The penalty for this crime is imprisonment not to exceed five years or a fine not to exceed $10,000, or both.
- 948.06 Incest with a Child -- Marriage or sexual intercourse or sexual contact with a child the assailant knows is related, either by blood or adoption, and the child is related in a degree of kinship closer than second cousin, or is a person responsible for the child's welfare and has knowledge that incest may or has occurred and is capable of taking action yet fails to take protective action. The penalty for this crime is imprisonment not to exceed 20 years or a fine not to exceed $10,000, or both.
- 948.055 Causing a Child to View or Listen to Sexual Activity -- Intentionally causing a child to view or listen to sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of arousing or gratifying the perpetrator or humiliating or degrading the victim. If the child has not attained the age of 13 years, the penalty for this crime is imprisonment not to exceed 10 years or a fine not to exceed $10,000, or both. If the child is between 13 and 17 years old, the penalty for this crime is imprisonment not to exceed 5 years or a fine not to exceed $10,000, or both.
- 948.08 Soliciting a Child for Prostitution -- Intentionally soliciting or causing any child to practice prostitution or establishing a child in a place of prostitution is a felony. The penalty for this crime is imprisonment not to exceed 20 years or a fine not to exceed $10,000, or both.
- 948.07 Child Enticement -- Whoever, with intent to commit any of the following acts, causes or attempts to cause any child who has not attained the age of 18 years to go into any vehicle, building, room or secluded place is guilty of a Class BC felony:
(1) Having sexual contact or sexual intercourse with the child
(2) Causing the child to engage in prostitution.
(3) Exposing a sex organ to the child or causing the child to expose a sex organ
(4) Taking a picture or making an audio recording of the child engaging in sexually explicit conduct.
(5) Causing bodily or mental harm to the child.
(6) Giving or selling to the child a controlled substance or controlled substance analog.
Do Not Make Statements. Obviously, the best defense begins before a defendant is ever charged. Often, in a misguided attempt to help law enforcement, defendants make statements that are twisted and turned into prosecutorial evidence. It is important to remember not to allow yourself be interviewed government agencies without an attorney present.
Any interview will be sent to the police and the district attorney's office and can be used against you. An obvious corollary is do not let yourself be interviewed again by the police without your attorney present.
DNA Evidence. Sexual assault by its nature is a contact crime which also often involves force. In such cases the perpetrator will often leave behind telltale DNA evidence on the victim or at the crime scene. Using this evidence or challenging law enforcement's sloppy investigation and acquisition of potentially exculpatory information is the best way for a defense lawyer to prove actual innocence.
Examine Prosecution Expert's Background. An important part of every case of false allegations is the ability to counter the reports and testimony of caseworkers and "experts" who determine that abuse has occurred. To effectively counter a prosecution expert, the defense attorney must be well educated on the expert's education, work history, published works and testimony in prior cases.
Hire a Defense Expert. To successfully effectively defend against allegations of sexual assault a defense attorney must hire an expert to refute the victim's allegations. Additionally, often it is useful to retain a mental health expert to assist the defense attorney in preparing the trial and cross examination of alleged victims.
Use Professional Research. Under Wisconsin law an expert may testify at trial that an accuser acts consistently with research studies setting forth traits of a sexual assault victim. By the same token, an expert may also testify that an accuser acts inconsistently with research studies setting forth traits of a sexual assault victim. This is often the backbone of the prosecutions case and may be an important part of a well presented.
Subpoena Records. Existing psychological and/or medical records may be instrumental in criminal defense. The records of the accuser may demonstrate a lack of credibility in the alleged victim's story.
Use a Polygraph. When it is advantageous to the defense against a sexual assault, defense attorneys should obtain a credible polygraph examination from a respected professional.
Maury D. Beaulier defends against sexual assault allegations throughout Wisconsin and Minnesota. Our attorneys have developed a unique understanding of the dynamics of these very serious cases. Our competent, aggressive and thorough representation have made Maury D. Beaulier a leading criminal defense attorney in dealing with sex related criminal charges.
Defending an individual accused with child molestation, sex assault, or other related sex crimes is a very specialized area of criminal defense. Unfortunately, the very accusation itself is often treated as conclusive proof of the supposed misconduct. Law enforcement officers, as well as prosecutors, try to bend rules in prosecuting these types of cases. Consequently, not all criminal defense attorneys are equipped to handle the complex issues that sex cases present. Many criminal defense attorneys either assume that their client is guilty, or believe that the charges are unbeatable, prematurely concluding that no viable defense exists.
If retained at an early stage in the investigation, we are sometimes able to avoid charges altogether. At a minimum we are often able to avoid the trauma and embarrassment of our client being arrested at home or at the workplace by contacting law enforcement and the court in order to make the necessary arrangements.
Wisconsin Criminal Defense Center
Click here to go to the Wisconsin Criminal Defense Page
Criminal Defense Lawyers Nationwide
Click here to go to the National Criminal Defense Page
Ask a question or
review postings on our
Family Law Bulletin Board
Ask-A-Lawyer your legal questions
False Allegations of Child Abuse
A Web Page filled with Resources
Criminal Defense News
Review just a sampling of our success stories.
Another web resource related to false allegations of sex abuse
Investigating Child Sexual Abuse Allegations
Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network
Sexual Assault Information Page
Sexual Offender Registries