Individuals who are 17 years old or younger cannot legally consent to participate in sexual activity. In other words, it is no defense that an underage participant agreed to have sex. A person violates the state's statutory rape law when a person has consensual sexual intercourse with a person under 18.
Wisconsin, unlike many other states, does not have a close-in-age exemption. These Romeo and Juliet laws exempt individuals from prosecution if they engage in consensual sex when both participants are close in age and at least one of the partners is under the age of consent. It is possible for two underage participants who consent to sexual activity to be prosecuted for statutory rape in Wisconsin. These prosecutions are rare, however. Wisconsin does have an exemption for married couples, but it covers only spouses who are 16 and 17.
The severity of the offense depends on the specific criminal acts and the age of the perpetrator and victim. Sexual assault of a child first degree is punishable by up to life imprisonment or 66 years in jail, depending on whether it is a Class A or B felony. Sexual assault of a child second degree has a penalty of up to 40 years in prison or a fine of up to $100,000 if it is a Class C felony. If prosecuted as a Class F felony, perpetrators may face up to 18.5 years imprisonment or a fine of up to $25,000.
Individuals facing these charges should seek legal representation. An attorney can challenge evidence and mount the best defense under the circumstances.