Children are considered to be some of the most vulnerable members of society because they are unable to fully protect themselves, and they rely on parents or guardians to meet their needs. For this reason, crimes committed against children are taken very seriously by law enforcement, and the consequences of a conviction can be severe. Charges of crimes against children can have a significant impact on a person’s reputation, freedom, and future. Anyone who has been accused of these sensitive crimes will need to understand the nature of the charges against them and their options for defense.
Criminal Offenses Involving Children in Wisconsin
Crimes against children may involve any offenses in which a person is accused of causing harm to a minor or engaging in actions that could put a child at risk of harm. These charges may include:
Child pornography – Possession of any visual depictions of a child engaging in sexually explicit conduct, including images, videos, or other recordings, may result in serious criminal charges. These charges may apply if a person knowingly possessed or accessed child pornography and was aware or should reasonably have known that a child depicted in the materials was under the age of 18. In Wisconsin, possession of child pornography is a Class D felony that is punishable by up to 25 years in prison and a $100,000 fine, and in many cases, a three-year mandatory minimum applies.
Sexual assault of a child – Sexual contact or sexual intercourse with a child under the age of 13 that results in great bodily harm is a Class A felony, which carries a sentence of life in prison. Sexual intercourse or sexual contact with a child under the age of 13 or forced sexual intercourse or sexual contact with a child under the age of 16 is a Class B felony, which can lead to a sentence of up to 60 years in prison and in some cases, these charges carry a 25 year mandatory minimum prison sentence. Any other form of sexual intercourse or sexual contact with a child under the age of 16 may result in Class C felony charges, and a person who is convicted may be sentenced to up to 40 years and fined up to $100,000.
Sexual exploitation of a child – This offense involves persuading, manipulating, or coercing a minor under the age of 18 into participating in sexually explicit conduct that will be recorded or displayed. A person may face these charges if they employ or otherwise cause a child to engage in the creation of child pornography or if they import, sell, or distribute child pornography. This offense is a Class C felony.
Child abuse or endangerment – The offense of physical abuse of a child may apply in situations where a person caused a child to suffer harm. Intentional abuse in which a child suffers great bodily harm is a Class C felony, and intentionally acting in a way that put a child at risk of great bodily harm is a Class F felony, which may result in a prison sentence of 12.5 years and a maximum fine of $25,000. Intentionally causing other forms of bodily harm to a child may result in Class H felony charges, and a conviction may result in a prison sentence of up to six years and a maximum fine of $10,000. Recklessly causing a child to suffer great bodily harm is a Class E felony, and a conviction can result in a maximum 15-year prison sentence and a maximum fine of $50,000. Recklessly causing other forms of bodily harm to a child is a Class I felony, which carries a maximum sentence of 3.5 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
Kidnapping – Criminal charges related to child abduction may apply if a person kidnaps someone else’s child or if a person interferes with court-ordered custody by a child’s parent or legal guardian. Kidnapping someone else’s child involves taking or detaining the child and keeping them away from the custody of their parent or guardian. This offense is a Class E felony. Using force or threats to abduct someone else’s child is a Class C felony. If a person takes or withholds a child for at least 12 hours beyond the time when they should spend court-ordered physical custody with a parent or guardian, the offense of interference with custody, a Class F felony, may apply.
Contact Our Milwaukee, WI Crimes Against Children Lawyers
A person who is accused of committing crimes against children may face severe consequences if they are convicted, including imprisonment, financial penalties, and the requirement to register as a sex offender in some cases. In these situations, representation by an experienced criminal defense attorney is crucial.
At Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP, our Milwaukee sensitive crimes defense attorneys can provide guidance on how to proceed in these situations, and we can help protect the rights of defendants and determine the best defense strategies. To get legal help with these issues, contact us at 414-271-1440 and set up a consultation.