Patronizing a child for prostitution is a serious felony in Wisconsin

Patronizing a child for prostitution is a serious offense in nearly every jurisdiction in the United States.  Wisconsin is no exception, punishing the offense as a Class G felony.  As you’re aware from reading our other content, a Class G felony is an incredibly serious offense, punishable by up to 10 years in prison $25,000.00 in fines, or both.  Because of the fact that a child is involved, a conviction for this offense nearly always carries a prison penalty.

At Van Severen Law Office, S.C., our criminal defense attorneys regularly defend individuals facing crimes involving children, sexual assault charges, and many other serious felonies.  We defend individuals facing these offenses throughout the state.  Our law firm is comprised of a number of the best criminal defense attorneys in Wisconsin, and we’re certainly prepared to fight your criminal charges through trial.

Finally, the next step is up to you.  You must make the call and retain the right attorney for your charges.  At Van Severen Law Office, S.C., we offer potential clients free consultations.  You’ll be able to sit down with us to discuss your charges and potential defense to those charges.  At that meeting we’ll determine whether representation from our firm is appropriate, and we’ll move forward from there.  Call us at (414) 270-0202.

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What does the law say?

At this point, it makes sense to take a look at what the law actually says.  Section 948.081 of the Wisconsin Statutes prohibits patronizing a child.  The law says:

 An actor who enters or remains in any place of prostitution with intent to have nonmarital sexual intercourse or to commit an act of sexual gratification, in public or in private, involving the sex organ of one person and the mouth or anus of another, masturbation, or sexual contact with a person is guilty of a Class G felony if the person is a child. In a prosecution under this section, it need not be proven that the actor knew the age of the person and it is not a defense that the actor reasonably believed that the person was not a child.

Importantly, simply remaining inside the place of prostitution with the intent to have non-marital sexual intercourse satisfies this law.  This certainly keeps things quite broad, and allows for prosecutions based on the location of the defendant and things he does or says while in that location.  This differs from television and movies, where the defendant must have a conversation with a specific prostitute before a crime occurs.

Finally, the prosecution need not prove the age of the child involved.  And it is not a defense to simply allege you believed the child was an adult.

Patronizing a child for prostitution jury instructions

Jury instructions are exactly what they sound like – instructions made for jurors.  But their broader purpose is that they break down crimes into smaller pieces, called elements.  Each crime has elements, and each of the elements of the crime must satisfy proof beyond a reasonable doubt.  If the government cannot satisfy an element, they cannot convict you.

Certainly using those in this article makes sense.  Wisconsin Criminal Jury Instruction 2136A defines patronizing a child:

  • Firstly, the defendant entered or remained in a place of prostitution. “Place of prostitution” means any place where persons habitually engage in or offer to engage in nonmarital acts of sexual intercourse or sexual contact for anything of value; and
  • Secondly, the defendant entered or remained in the place with intent to (have nonmarital sexual intercourse) (commit an act of sexual gratification, in public or in private, involving the sex organ of one person and the mouth or anus of another) (commit an act of masturbation) (have sexual contact) with a person who had not attained the age of 18 years at the time of the alleged offense.

You’ll notice that these elements are pretty simple: the defendant entered the place, and he remained there with intent to commit one of the listed actions.  But while that might look simple, it isn’t.  The important word here is intent.  And here’s why:

How do we win my patronizing a child for prostitution charge?

A “place of prostitution” does not typically refer to the most legitimate or reputable location.  And it isn’t simply a car, or alley, or anywhere that adult prostitution may occur.  This law requires that the location be one where people regularly (“habitually”) engage in prostitution.  Let’s bring this back to intent, which relies on the defendant’s acts, words, and statements.  How does the government prove those things?  People hanging out in the place of prostitution.  Those soft witnesses will certainly have factors we can impeach during direct or cross-examination.  Do they have prior convictions?  What were they doing at the location?  Are they serving as a paid informant to the cops?  These three inquiries are certainly important, but there might be more.

Secondly, it’s important when facing any kind of criminal charge to maintain your right to silence.  The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees your right to silence.  Take advantage of it.  Your criminal defense attorney will certainly find himself in a better position representing you moving forward.  Explaining to the cops why you were at the location certainly won’t get you anywhere.  They’ll twist your words, put other words in your mouth, and make you look bad.  Your criminal defense lawyer should be the first person to hear why you were at the location (and then we’ll fit that into “intent”).

Finally, remember your right to trial.  If you are not guilty of this offense, fighting your charges in front of a jury are an option.  Our defense lawyers have significant experience defending individuals at trial.

A brothel certainly satisfies the definition of “place of prostitution.” While Wisconsin does not have locations marked as clearly as this, it helps emphasize the point.

Contact Van Severen Law Office, S.C. for representation today

At Van Severen Law Office, S.C., we focus 100% of our firm’s resources on criminal defense.  We don’t handle divorces or write contracts for clients or handle any kind of civil law.  That’s important because it allows us to focus all of our efforts on defending crimes just like this.

Patronizing a child is an incredibly serious charge, but you’ll find that our law firm’s work ethic matches what’s needed for a case like this.  Don’t hire a plea machine.  Hire a serious criminal defense attorney, recognized as one of the best in Wisconsin.  Contact us today at (414) 270-0202.

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