Sexual offenses are categorized according to their level of seriousness by degrees, similar to other crimes. Not surprisingly, first-degree sex crimes such as rape or the sexual assault of a young child carry the highest penalties, while misdemeanors such as public exposure come with much lighter sentences. But that doesn't mean prosecutors in Wisconsin don't take these "lesser" crimes seriously. Just like the most heinous sex crimes, the media exposure and penalties that come with more minor offenses can derail a defendant's plans for the future.
A Milwaukee man was recently convicted of three counts of fourth-degree sexual assault after he admitted to groping women on three separate occasions last fall. The 41-year-old man inappropriately touched the women as they were walking or running along Milwaukee paths.
The man attempted to explain his actions, telling a reporter that his drinking and "male hormones" led to the behavior. While groping the women didn't cause as much bodily harm as a first-degree crime such as rape, the misdemeanor crimes were not taken lightly by the victims, prosecutors or the sentencing judge.
After the man pleaded guilty to the crimes he was given the maximum sentence for two counts: nine months in jail for each, for a total of 18 months. The judge suspended the penalty for the third count in favor of two years of probation. During the probationary period the man must undergo a drug and alcohol abuse assessment and attend treatment, if ordered. He also must remain completely sober during that time and register as a sex offender for 15 years. If he fails to comply with these terms, he will be required to serve nine months in jail for the third count of assault.
People accused of misdemeanor sex crimes need to be as serious about their defense as if they were charged with a first-degree felony. The consequences are damaging enough that a casual approach and explanation for the crimes aren't sufficient.
Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Man who groped women on trails sentenced," Bruce Vielmetti, Feb. 8, 2013
- Our firm handles the criminal defense cases of Wisconsin residents, whether they're charged with felonies and misdemeanors. To learn more about our practice, visit our Wisconsin sex crimes page.