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Wisconsin Prohibited Consensual Sexual Activity Laws

Everyone is aware that nonconsensual sex, such as sexual assault and rape, is illegal. For the most part, consensual sex between two adults is none of the state's business. But when does consensual sexual activity go from a private matter to a criminal act? For the most part, when it's done in public or when it exposes children to harm. While some of these prohibitions, like flashing or sex in public, are obviously illegal, some others are not as well-known.

This article provides a brief overview of Wisconsin laws prohibiting certain consensual sex acts. Keep in mind that "consent" is a legal term defined by state criminal law. For example, it is impossible for anyone under the age of 16 to consent to sexual activity in Wisconsin.

History of Prohibited Consensual Sexual Activity Laws

There are voluntary activities that are regulated under state consensual sexual activity laws in all jurisdictions. Most of the time, these guidelines reflect the social and political norms of the particular state at the time the laws were created and thus are subject to change over time. While any kind of non-consensual sex is a crime, most states at one time enforced anti-sodomy laws between consenting partners. These laws have since been struck down in Lawrence v. Texas (2003) since they unconstitutionally singled-out same-sex couples.

Prohibited Consensual Sexual Activity Laws in Wisconsin

The major provisions of Wisconsin's prohibited consensual sexual activity laws are highlighted in the following chart. See FindLaw's Sex Crimes section to learn more about prohibited non-consensual sex acts.

Sodomy Laws Applicable to

There is no anti-sodomy statute in Wisconsin.

Penalty for Sodomy

There is no penalty for sodomy in Wisconsin.

HIV Exposure and Compelled Testing for Offenders

Under Wis. Stat. § 968.38, in a criminal action for sexual assault, the district attorney or victim may request the court order the defendant to undergo HIV or STI testing.

Other Crimes Relating to Consensual Sex Acts

  • Prostitution: Under Wis. Stat. § 944.30 et seq., prostitution is punishable by different sentences depending on the defendant's involvement with the sex-for-hire operation. For instance, solicitation of prostitution is a class H felony while patronizing prostitutes is a class A misdemeanor for the first offense and a class 1 felony for subsequent offenses.
  • Sexual gratification: Under Wis. Stat. § 944.17, sexual gratification is punishable as a class A misdemeanor. However, this law explicitly excludes breastfeeding mothers.
  • Public fornication: Under Wis. Stat. § 944.15, public fornication is punishable as a class A misdemeanor.

Other Crimes Relating to Non-consensual Sex Acts

  • Rape and sexual assault: Sexual assault in Wisconsin may be classified as first-degree, second-degree, third-degree, or fourth-degree with varying sentences for each. Penalties can be a class A felony, class B felony, class C felony, class F felony, class G felony, or class A misdemeanor, depending on the facts of the case. For more information, visit FindLaw's article on Wisconsin Rape and Sexual Assault Laws.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Wisconsin Prohibited Consensual Sexual Activity Laws: Related Resources

Need More Help? Contact an Attorney

Criminal prosecution for a sex crime can have serious consequences for a defendant. If you have been arrested for a sex crime, you may consider contacting an experienced criminal defense attorney. If you cannot afford to hire an attorney, you still have the right to counsel and the public defender's office in your county will be able to assist you.

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