Public fornication is a serious misdemeanor offense.  Contact Van Severen Law Office at (414) 270-0202.

Public fornication is a serious charge in Wisconsin.  While this offense isn’t a felony, it’s the top level misdemeanor charge in Wisconsin.  That’s a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of 9 months in jail, $10,000.00 in fines, or both.  The fact that this charge is the top level misdemeanor offense in Wisconsin shows just how seriously prosecutors take cases like this.

What could seem relatively innocent – having sex in public – quickly turns into a criminal charge depending on the context.  And while a conviction for this offense might turn into something like probation, the stigma of such a conviction will remain.  Friends, family, co-workers, and the general public could all unfairly judge you for this offense.

At Van Severen Law Office we work our very hardest to prevent that conviction.  Whether your case requires us to file pre-trial motions, or if you’re innocent and want to proceed to trial, we have your back.  We’re on your side.  And we’re prepared to fight the government with you.  To speak with one of our top criminal defense attorneys, contact Van Severen Law Office at (414) 270-0202 for immediate help.

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What is fornication in public?

Section 944.15(2) of the Wisconsin Statutes prohibits fornication in public.  The law indicates:

Whoever has sexual intercourse in public is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.

Section 944.15(1) of the Wisconsin Statutes defines the term in public:

In this section, “in public” means in a place where or in a manner such that the person knows or has reason to know that his or her conduct is observable by or in the presence of persons other than the person with whom he or she is having sexual intercourse.

So obviously a lot of the definition here relies on the circumstances surrounding the intercourse.  And there’s certainly some lawyering that can be done regarding this definition.  For example, is having sex in a public park at 4:00 a.m. public fornication?  Certainly at 4:00 p.m. on a Saturday is.  But what about in the middle of the night, when the defendant knows no one else is around.

Importantly, this scenario relies on the “in public” definition.  No one is around at 4:00 a.m.  The sexual intercourse is not observable by anyone.  And finally, did the defendant have reason to believe his conduct was observable by anyone?  Arguably not.

What are the elements of the offense?

All criminal offenses in Wisconsin have certain elements.  Secondly, an element is a part of the offense and it must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Wisconsin Criminal Jury Instruction 1535 provides the elements of public fornication:

  • Firstly, the defendant had sexual intercourse with another person; and
  • Secondly, the alleged act of sexual intercourse took place in public; and
  • Finally, the defendant knew or had reason to know the alleged act was observable by or in the presence of others.

The third element is where we’d certainly argue for you in the previous example.  In the middle of the night, with no lights on, and no one around, arguably the government cannot satisfy the third element.

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Public fornication is a Class A misdemeanor in Wisconsin. Contact our top criminal defense attorneys at (414) 270-0202 for help.

How do we defend my public fornication case?

All criminal cases in Wisconsin are different.  Some defense revolve are a defense based on the elements of the offense.  A great example of this is the description of sexual intercourse in a park at night, as we described above.  Likely one of the defenses we’d employ on such a case would involve arguing the elements don’t apply.

Secondly, there might be pre-trial motions to file.  A pre-trial motion is some request by your defense attorney of the court.  Frequently pretrial motions are important because they’re what we file to challenge illegal searches, seizures, and statements.  For example, in a case like this, what if the police didn’t actually see any intercourse occur? What if, instead, they saw you zipping up your pants and putting your clothes on?  That’s problematic, but it’s not intercourse.  Does seeing this give the cops probable cause to arrest you?  Do other circumstances give them probable cause to arrest you?  Depending on those circumstances the arrest might be illegal.  We’d file a motion challenging that.

Contact our top criminal defense attorneys today

At Van Severen Law Office our criminal defense attorneys are consistently recognized among the best in Wisconsin.  While we can’t talk about other cases we’ve defended, we can point you to our client testimonials page.  Here you’ll notice that we’ve achieved incredible results for clients in difficult situations.

If you face charges for any criminal offense, especially one involving some kind of sexual allegation, contact us immediately.  Charges like this can be embarrassing, and you might want to try to hide the situation.  But hiring a criminal defense attorney to hit the problem head-on could make your life better down the road.

To speak with one of our criminal defense attorneys, call us at (414) 270-0202.  We answer phones 24/7.  Let’s start fighting your case today.

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