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Wisconsin Prohibited Consensual Sexual Activity Laws

Everyone is aware that nonconsensual sex, like assault and rape, is illegal. And 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. So here is a quick summary of prohibited consensual sexual activity laws in Wisconsin.

Consensual Sexual Activities Laws in General

It's important to remember that each state has laws that prohibit certain kinds of sexual activity, even if it’s consensual. In general, these laws correlate with the social norms of that particular state, and as such will change over time. Wisconsin’s prohibited consensual sexual activity laws include regulations found in most other states, including public indecency and indecent exposure statutes. However, the state also allows for HIV testing of defendants in sex crime cases.

Prohibited Consensual Sexual Activity Laws in Wisconsin

The major provisions of Wisconsin’s prohibited consensual sexual activity laws are highlighted in the following chart.

Sodomy Laws Applicable to


Penalty for Sodomy


HIV Exposure and Compelled Testing for Offenders

968.38 In a criminal action for sex assault, the district attorney or victim may request the court order the defendant to be HIV tested

Other Crimes Relating to Consensual Sex Acts

944.15 Public fornication: Class A misdemeanor

944.17 Sexual gratification: Class A misdemeanor
944.20 Lewd and lascivious behavior: Class A misdemeanor

944.25 Sending obscene or sexually explicit electronic messages
947.01 Disorderly conduct: Class B misdemeanor
947.02 Vagrancy: Class C misdemeanor

Wisconsin laws prohibit public and non-public indecency, covering behavior from public sex to non-public nudity intended to be seen by other people. The statute also contains a provision outlawing obscene or sexually explicit email solicitations, “sent for the purpose of encouraging a person to purchase property, goods, or services.”

Wisconsin Prohibited Consensual Sexual Activity Laws: Related Resources

Because social attitudes regarding sex are subject to change, the state laws regulating consensual sexual activity often follow suit. For more comprehensive information and resources on this topic, you can also visit FindLaw's Sex Crimes section. If you have been charged with a sex crime or would like to fully understand your rights, you can contact a Wisconsin criminal defense attorney in your area and schedule a consultation to discuss your case.

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