You might be familiar with the term “statutory rape” which is often used to describe the crime of consensual intercourse when one actor is under legal age. We know that the law in Wisconsin is more nuanced than this basic description.
While statutory rape is not an actual legal term in Wisconsin, according to the state’s statutes, sexual contact or intercourse with a child can result in a first or second degree sexual assault charge.
First degree sexual assault
First degree sexual assault is the most serious offense, but there are different classes under first degree sexual assault. Since we are talking about cases of consensual sexual contact or intercourse, we will only discuss the parts of the law that address this issue. If the consensual sexual contact or intercourse involved a child under the age of 13, it is a Class B felony and considered first degree sexual assault.
Second degree sexual assault
In the case of statutory rape, age is the determining factor for how serious the charge will be. If the plaintiff was under 16 (but at least 13), then the State will likely charge the defendant with a second degree sexual assault and a Class C felony.
In Wisconsin, if the defendant was under the age of 19 and the plaintiff was 15, the charge for consensual intercourse would be a Class A misdemeanor, not a felony. It is also important to note that the defendant cannot use the defense that the plaintiff misrepresented their age. It does not matter if the defendant thought that the plaintiff was an adult at the time. Sexual assault crimes can carry hefty penalties.