Wisconsin criminal statutes 940.225 categorize sexual assaults include four "degrees" of offenses which may occur under a variety of circumstances. The Degrees are based upon the amount of force used by the assailant and the amount of harm done to the victim, rather than on the resistance offered by the victim. First, second and third degree sexual assaults are felonies whereas a fourth degree sexual assault is a misdemeanor.
Sexual Assault is not limited to rape which requires sexual intercourse or penetration but also includes sexual contact. Even consensual sexual contact may result in criminal charges if the victim is a minor. It can also occur between persons of the same sex.
Under Wisconsin law the penalties for sexual assault are severe and include incarceration, significant fines, as well as potential psychiatric treatment and the payment of restitution to victim.
In July 1997, the Wisconsin Office of Justice Assistance Statistical Analysis Center generated the following facts:
The most common type of sexual assault was forcible fondling, which accounted for 50 percent of all reported cases. Of all sexual assaults, 31 percent were the most serious types of offenses (forcible rape, forcible sodomy, or assault with an object). Ninety-two percent of all sexual assaults were perpetrated by someone known to the victim, while eight percent were committed by strangers. An offender was arrested in 58 percent of all cases. Ninety percent of all sexual assault offenders apprehended were referred to criminal or juvenile court. Sexual assaults occurred most frequently in the Summer months. Sixty-two percent of assaults took place in either the victim's or offender's home. Ninety-eight percent of assaults were committed by single offenders.
- In 1996, an estimated 6020 sexual assaults were reported to law enforcement agencies, representing a 1.3 percent decrease from the 1995 estimated total of 6101.
Sexual assault offenses are listed below along with their potential penalties.
First Degree Sexual Assault (Class B felony)
- sexual intercourse or sexual contact without consent which causes pregnancy or great bodily harm, or
- sexual intercourse or sexual contact without consent accomplished by use or threat of use of a dangerous weapon, or
- sexual intercourse or sexual contact without consent while aided or abetted by one or more persons through the use or threat of force or violence.
* Penalty for a Class B felony includes imprisonment not to exceed 40 years under Wisconsin Statutes § 939.50(3)(b)).
Second Degree Sexual Assault (Class BC felony)
- sexual intercourse or sexual contact without consent through the use or threat of force or violence, or
- sexual intercourse or sexual contact without consent which causes injury, illness, disease, or impairment of a sexual or reproductive organ, or mental anguish requiring psychiatric care, or
- sexual intercourse or sexual contact with a person known by the perpetrator to be unconscious or mentally ill or mentally deficient, or
- sexual intercourse or sexual contact without consent while aided or abetted by one or more person, or
- sexual intercourse or sexual contact with a person who is a patient or resident of an inpatient facility or a state treatment facility by a perpetrator who is an employee of that facility.
* Penalty for Class BC felony includes fines up to $10,000 and imprisonment not to exceed 20 years under Wisconsin Statutes § 939.50(3)(bc)).
Third Degree Sexual Assault (Class D felony)
* Penalty for Class D felony includes a fine up to $10,000 and imprisonment not to exceed 5 years under Wisconsin Statutes § 939,50(3)(d)).
- Whoever has sexual contact involving ejaculation or sexual intercourse with a person without the consent of that person.
Fourth Degree Sexual Assault (Class A misdemeanor)
- Sexual contact with a person without the consent of that person or sexual intercourse with a person 16-18 years old.
Penalty for a class A misdemeanor includes a fine up to $10,000 and imprisonment not to exceed 9 months in the county jail under Wisconsin Statutes § 939.50(3)(bc)).
Wisconsin statutes go on to define some of the terms that are used as necessary elements of sexual assault crimes:
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.
Attorney Maury D. Beaulier is a leading defender against sexual assault allegations throughout Wisconsin and Minnesota. We 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 regarding 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.
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