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By Attorney Nicole Masnica

Milwaukee sensitive crimes defense lawyerSex crimes, also known as sensitive crimes, are treated very seriously in Wisconsin. While any criminal conviction can substantially affect your future opportunities, a conviction for a sex offense will carry with it collateral consequences that will impact nearly every aspect of your life for years to come. It is important to understand what might be at stake if you have been accused of a sex offense in Wisconsin.

The Charges

According to Wis. Stat. §301.45, an individual found guilty of any of the following offenses is required to comply with the sex offender registry:


Milwaukee WI sex offense attorneyIn Wisconsin, persons who have been convicted of felony sex offenses are required to register as sex offenders for either fifteen (15) years or, for some types of convictions, lifetime registration. Sex offenses requiring registration are listed at Wis. Stat. §301.45(1d)(b). Some offenses, which are designated as “level 1” or “level 2” sex offenses against minors; persons who are placed on lifetime supervision for a “serious sex offenses” pursuant to Wis. Stats §939.615; and persons who are deemed Special Bulletin Notification (SBN) offenders under Wis. Stat. §301.46(2m)(am), are subject to lifetime sex offender reporting (SOR) and GPS monitoring.  

In June 1997, the Sex offender Registration and Community Notification Law went into effect in Wisconsin and gave law enforcement agencies the authority to disseminate information about certain sex offenders to the community, and it established the SBN process. Until September 2018, the Wisconsin Department of Corrections interpreted the SOR and SBN laws so that persons convicted of sex offenses on “2 or more separate occasions” was defined to mean persons who were convicted of sex offenses in two or more separate cases. On September 1, 2017, Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel issued formal opinion OAG-02-17, in which he concluded that "separate occasions" could mean separate counts within just one case, as well as in separate cases. The DOC adopted Schimel’s opinion in 2018 and has applied it retroactively for many convicted sex offenders, regardless of the fact that this was not the law at the time of their sentencing. AG Schimel’s opinion is at https://www.doj.state.wi.us/sites/default/files/dls/ag-opinion-archive/2017/OAG-02-17.pdf.

Under the 2018 DOC interpretation, many individuals who were not subject to “Special Bulletin Notification” and lifetime GPS monitoring (and were never told they would face such by the sentencing judge) are now unexpectedly finding that they are, and that their future includes the wearing of a GPS bracelet for the rest of their lives. These surprise retroactive restrictions raise significant legal and constitutional concerns, including ex post facto, Fourth Amendment liberty and privacy, as well as due process and the right to adequate notice. It also could call into question the validity of many past plea bargains, which were based on the criminal law that defendants were advised of and as it existed at that time.


Milwaukee sexual assault defense lawyerCriminal accusations, investigations, and arrests will have massive, far-reaching implications for anyone who is charged with a crime. However, some types of sensitive crimes can be even more serious since they will affect a person’s freedom, reputation, relationships with friends and family, their career, and his or her standing in the community. 

Sexual assault is one of the most severe crimes with which a person can be charged, and a conviction is likely to result in lengthy jail time and significant fines, as well as the requirement to register as a sex offender for at least 15 years, and possibly for life. If you are facing accusations of sexual assault, it is important to understand the specific charges and their potential punishments.

Degrees of Sexual Assault in Wisconsin

Wisconsin law identifies four degrees of sexual assault:


Wisconsin defense attorney, Wisconsin criminal lawyer, Wisconsin criminal statutesCurrent law defines sexual assault (at minimum) as any intentional, non-consensual sexual touching of intimate parts, directly or through clothing, for the purpose of sexual gratification or victim humiliation. Some lawmakers are looking to make changes to that law that would greatly alter the definition of touching. It would also further restrict who is allowed to give consent in any given situation.

In tandem to those proposed changes, lawmakers in Wisconsin recently introduced a new bill that is designed to provide protections to underage assault victims. Both measures are intended to mostly target college campus and high school sexual assault crimes, but the implications have a much wider net with a penalty that could impose charges, even if no intent exists.

Affirmative Consent, Touching, and the Physically Disabled


Posted on in Criminal Defense

Wisconsin defense attorney, Wisconsin criminal lawyer, Wisconsin sex crimes lawsCharges of sexual assault are very serious and should not be taken lightly. Aside from their seriousness, they are also embarrassing and carry stigma that will follow you the rest of your life, even if you are innocent of the accusations.

Wisconsin law has different categories of sexual assault, but it is generally defined as non-consensual sexual intercourse, through the threat of force, violence, pregnancy or that causes great bodily harm. The most commonly known form of sexual assault is rape. Sexual assault charges carry hefty penalties depending on the degree:

  • First degree sexual assault is a Class B felony, which carries up to 60 years in prison;
  • Second degree sexual assault is a Class C felony, which carries up to 40 years in prison and/or up to $100,000 in fines;
  • Third degree sexual assault is a Class G felony, which carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years and up to $25,000 in fines, or both; and
  • Fourth degree sexual assault is a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a fine up to $10,000 and/or up to nine months in jail.

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