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Is sexting a punishable sex crime in Wisconsin?

Like many other states, Wisconsin has not established specific laws pertaining to sexting activities. However, some elements of sexting could be punishable under other Wisconsin statutes. Defendants apprehended for sharing sexually charged text messages could be prosecuted for certain sex crimes if the required criteria has been met.

For situations in which sexting with minors includes graphic images, suggestive material or sexually explicit text messages, prosecutors could attempt to make a conviction. Many times, prosecutors will use the state and federal underage pornography laws to pursue this conviction. In Wisconsin, the laws surrounding underage pornography are quite severe, as they are in all American states.

The website for Mobile Media Guard cites the following as potentially relating to sexting in Wisconsin:

-- Persuading, coercing, enticing or otherwise inducing a minor to participate in sexually explicit activities. For example, if during a text conversation, the defendant attempted to engage in sexually-charged messages with a minor, it is possible criminal charges could apply.

-- Being involved in the distribution of images depicting minors in a sexual manner. An example of this is sending or even selling such images to others via text messaging.

-- Possessing images of a known minor who is depicted in a sexual manner. Having such images on one's mobile phone or computer could meet the requirements for this law.

In short, the answer is yes, sexting can be punished in some situations within the state of Wisconsin. However, it is quite possible to create a successful defense, as well. This is especially so if defendants and their defense attorneys can demonstrate ignorance of the age of the person with whom the sexting occurred.

Source: Mobile Media Guard, "Laws Pertaining to Sexting in the State of Wisconsin" accessed Mar. 09, 2015

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