When a person is accused of sexual assault, a big question they will likely have is: what consequences could I face if found guilty? This question is actually a pretty complex one with no one answer that covers all sexual assault cases. This is why going to an experienced criminal defense attorney for guidance and representation tailored to their individual case can be of such great importance for sexual assault suspects.
One of the reasons why there is such a great deal of variation among sexual assault cases is that not all those accused of sexual assault here in Wisconsin face the same type of charge.
This is because sexual assault charges come in four different degrees in the state: first through fourth degree.
Fourth degree sexual assault covers general nonconsensual sexual contact. Third degree covers general nonconsensual sexual intercourse and certain specific kinds of nonconsensual sexual contact. First degree and second degree cover sexual contact/intercourse with special circumstances. For some of these special circumstances, the sexual contact/intercourse must be nonconsensual for it to be an offense, though for some of the second-degree-triggering circumstances it is not. Nonconsensual sexual intercourse/contact in which violence or force is threatened or used is one example of a circumstance that constitutes second degree sexual assault, and nonconsensual sexual intercourse/contact that results in great bodily harm to the victim is one example of a circumstance that constitutes first degree sexual assault.
First degree is the most severe degree while fourth is the least. Fourth degree sexual assault is a Class A misdemeanor and the other three degrees are felonies, with third degree being a Class G felony, second degree being a Class C felony and first degree being a Class B felony. Each charge class carries its own specific set of possible penalties.
As this illustrates, many factors play a role in what class of charge (and thus what potential penalties) a person alleged to have committed sexual assault could end up facing.