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CRIMINAL CHARGES

Is it a crime to date my high school girlfriend after I graduate?

Wisconsin’s consent laws are quite strict, but the state did make some changes to help those who may be adults under the law but have real and unharmful romantic relationships with minors. According to the Wisconsin Legislative Council, anyone over the age of 18 having sexual intercourse with anyone under the age of 18 used to be sexual assault.

While the law did change, it did not make it legal for you to have a sexual relationship with your girlfriend who is still underage. Instead, it made some adjustments to the previous law.

Felony to misdemeanor

Instead of felony charges, you will now face a misdemeanor charge for underage sexual activity. It applies to you if you are 18 and your girlfriend is 15, 16 or 17 years old. Do note that this law focuses on age and not the number of years between your ages, which some other laws may focus on.

Exceptions

The changes in the law also include some exceptions where you may not face charges at all or that would help decrease your penalties. One exception is if you and your girlfriend marry, then you cannot face charges.

Another exception involves the sex offender registry. In general, any conviction of any type of sexual charge means that you must register on the offender list. The law allows an exception when you and the victim, which is your girlfriend in this case, are close in age. This includes any charges for underage sexual activity. If the situation was consensual and your girlfriend was at least 15 years old, then you will not have to go on the registry. However, the final decision remains up to the court.

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