Can a 16-Year-Old Date a 20-Year-Old in Wisconsin? Age of Consent Laws Explained

As it is in many states, the age of consent is 18 in Wisconsin. This means that individuals under this age are legally unable to consent to sexual activity. But what happens if someone slightly younger than 18 wants to date or have intimate relations with someone a little older than 18? For instance, could a 16-year-old date and have sexual intercourse with a 20-year-old who is just four years older than they are?

Does Wisconsin Have a Close-in-Age Exemption?

No. Wisconsin has no close-in-age exemption law, sometimes referred to as a “Romeo and Juliet” law. In other states, this type of law protects people who are close in age from facing criminal charges when they engage in consensual sexual activities. However, in Wisconsin, even consensual activities between individuals who are both under 18 can lead to prosecution.

This lack of exemption means that a 16-year-old and a 20-year-old, for example, could face legal consequences for engaging in a sexual relationship. The state strictly enforces its age of consent without any allowance for close-age relationships. The only exception applies to legal marriages in which one or both partners are under the age of consent.

Penalties for Violating Wisconsin’s Age of Consent Laws

Wisconsin Statutes § 948.09 classifies sexual intercourse with a child 16 or older as a Class A misdemeanor. This law applies when an adult aged 19 or older has sexual contact with a minor aged 16 or 17. Possible punishments for this misdemeanor offense can include a maximum of nine months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

How a Defense Attorney Can Help in Age of Consent Cases

In Wisconsin, a 20-year-old who is having sexual relations with a 16-year-old can be subject to serious legal consequences, possibly including criminal charges. Here’s how a knowledgeable Wisconsin defense attorney can help in these types of age-of-consent cases:

  • Evaluating the Case: A defense attorney can carefully review all aspects of your case by examining evidence, witness statements, and the specific circumstances of the relationship. They look for any legal nuances or inconsistencies that could be useful in building a strong defense.
  • Building a Defense Strategy: Based on the case evaluation, your attorney can develop a custom defense strategy. This might involve challenging the legality of evidence, questioning witness credibility, or presenting counter-evidence.
  • Negotiating with Prosecutors: Next, your attorney might engage in negotiations with prosecutors to seek a reduction in charges or a more lenient sentence. This could involve presenting mitigating factors, such as your good character or background, the consensual nature of the relationship, and any lack of prior criminal history.
  • Representing You in Court: If your case goes to court, your attorney can advocate on your behalf. They can present arguments, cross-examine witnesses, and strive to ensure a fair trial.

Contact a Defense Lawyer in Wisconsin Today

If you have more questions about Wisconsin’s age of consent laws or are facing charges for a sex crime in Wisconsin, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Christopher T. Van Wagner S.C. offers a free consultation to discuss your situation, answer your questions, and provide the guidance you need.

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