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Statutory rape | Still a punishable offense in Wisconsin

A few decades ago, the term statutory rape was well known in many states. Over the years, other terminology seemed to replace statutory rape causing the term to slip close to oblivion. While a defendant's actions may or may not be called something else, statutory rape is still a punishable offense across the nation.

In Wisconsin, the law maintains that individuals under 16 years old are incapable of providing their consent to have intercourse. This means it is illegal in all situations unless the two parties having sex are married to one another. Here are the specific offenses defendants may face in a statutory rape situation.

-- Sexual intercourse with a child 16 or older, which means intercourse with a person between 16 and 18 years of age-- Second degree sexual assault, which means intercourse or sexual contact with a person between 13 and 16 years of age-- First degree sexual assault, which means intercourse or sexual contact with a person who is younger than 13 years

The statutory rape laws across the nation are not exempt from controversy, despite everyone's desire to keep children safe. The Harvard Law Blog published a post in 2012 detailing how such charges can destroy a defendant's life when both parties having consensual sexual contact are as young as 14 years old or even younger. The post provides examples of what the author considers "absurd results and disproportionately harsh penalties against teens."

The point here is that sexual contact involving a minor will likely lead to harsh penalties, even if both parties consent and if both parties are the same age. As awareness grows about the realities of statutory rape from both sides of the fence, it may become more and more possible to beat such charges or perhaps avoid the most severe penalties. However, regardless of the age of the alleged victim or the defendant, it is always import to acquire legal counsel when facing allegations of statutory rape.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - ASPE, "Wisconsin Statutory Rape—Criminal Offenses," accessed April. 06, 2015

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