Overcoming A Presumption Of Guilt In Sexual Assault Cases
Criminal cases involving sex crimes are difficult to win. People often assume that a person is guilty — just because he or she has been accused. Worse, the consequences of a conviction can include a 40-year sentence and a lifetime on the sex offender registry. A charge can truly change a life. That is why it’s critical to fight allegations aggressively.
At Nicholson Goetz & Otis, S.C., we have developed a reputation for success in sex crime cases. We are aggressive and experienced in these often sensitive matters, both at the pretrial stage and at trial. We understand how frightening it is just to be accused.
Many Situations May Result In Sexual Assault Allegations
Our Madison, Wisconsin, law firm handles many sex crimes in Wisconsin state courts, from sexual assault to possession of child pornography. We are dedicated to achieving the best possible results for people charged with crimes such as:
- Date rape: Clients are often surprised and confused to be charged for what they thought was a consensual act.
- Sexual assault of intoxicated or unconscious victims: Issues of consent can become muddled when alcohol or drugs are involved.
- Sexual assault of a young adult, teen or child (often called statutory rape): A sexual relationship between anyone 18 or over and anyone under 16 violates the law, even if it was consensual.
- Sexual assault with a deadly weapon/forcible rape: These are aggravated charges, often resulting in a first-degree sexual assault charge.
- Child molestation: The level of offense depends upon whether threats or force was used.
- Lewd and lascivious behavior: This term refers to indecent exposure and, more specifically, sexual acts in public.
- Possession or distribution of child pornography: Depending on the situation, purchasing, owning or distributing child pornography is almost always a felony offense that can result in a federal charge.
For more information read our article “I didn’t do it!”: Protecting yourself against false sexual assault accusations.”
It’s a common occurrence: Many people face false allegations of involvement in a sex crime during a divorce. One spouse wants to deny the other child custody and parenting time or gain leverage in property division, so he or she accuses the other. Our law firm handles family law issues as well as issues of criminal defense. We are well-prepared to defend clients who have been accused of child molestation or served with a domestic battery restraining order as well as divorce paperwork.
Penalties For Sex Crimes Are Severe In Wisconsin
Wisconsin has four degrees of sexual assault, three of which are felonies that carry likely prison sentences, as well as inclusion on the sex offender registry. They include:
- First degree: Any sexual assault resulting in great bodily harm, threats with a deadly weapon, multiple assailants or forcible assault of anyone under 16 is a Class B felony, carrying a sentence of up to 60 years in prison.
- Second degree: This broader category includes any sexual contact that results in harm or mental anguish, sexual assault against someone who cannot consent due to intoxication or incompetence, and sexual contact with anyone under 16, but does not include threats or violence. These charges are Class C felonies with a potential sentence of up to 40 years and a potential fine of up to $100,000.
- Third degree: This Class G felony includes any other nonconsensual sex, as well as unwanted ejaculation, urination or defecation on another person. Convictions carry up to 10 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.
- Fourth degree: This is the only misdemeanor charge and can result in up to nine months in jail and up to $10,000 in fines. It includes sexual contact that does not result in intercourse, such as groping. Consensual sex between someone 18 or over and a minor between the ages of 16 and 18 is also a misdemeanor, commonly referred to as statutory rape.
Nearly all of these charges, including the child pornography charges mentioned above, will place you on the state’s sex offender registry if you are convicted. For many charges, once you are on that registry, you are there for life. That means you will have to notify local law enforcement every time you move and reregister regularly. This information is provided to the public via a website. Your criminal record will also reflect your status as a sex offender, affecting your ability to find housing and employment.