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Sexual exploitation of a child cases are serious.  Contact a top criminal defense attorney at Meyer Van Severen: (414) 270-0202

Sexual exploitation of a child cases are serious.  At Meyer Van Severen, S.C. our top criminal defense attorneys focus on defending individuals facing all manner of criminal offenses.  Frequently, as in sexual exploitation of a child cases, we defend individuals facing charges involving sexual assault and children.

Secondly, sexual exploitation of a child is a Class C felony offense in Wisconsin.  If the defendant is under 18 at the time of the offense, the charge is a Class F felony.  Along with the negative stigmas attached to sex crimes involving children, these penalties have the potential to send you to jail.  At Meyer Van Severen, S.C. we focus on avoiding those negative consequences.

Our criminal defense lawyers regularly fight charges like the one you face.  100% of our practice is dedicated to criminal defense.  That means we don’t handle business law.  We don’t do divorces.  While we can certainly refer you to experts in those areas, our representation focuses on beating criminal charges and keeping you out of jail.

Our sexual assault defense attorneys are consistently recognized among the best in Wisconsin.  Contact Meyer Van Severen immediately at (414) 270-0202.  Let’s start fighting your case.


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What is sexual exploitation of a child?

Section 948.05 of the Wisconsin Statutes prohibits sexual exploitation of a child.  This crime occurs when the defendant does any of the following, with knowledge of the character and content of the sexually explicit conduct:

  • Employed, used, persuaded, induced, enticed, or coerced any child to engage in sexually explicit conduct for purposes of recording or displaying in any way the conduct;
  • Recorded or displayed in any way a child engaged in sexually explicit conduct; or
  • Produced, performed in, profited from, promoted, imported into the state, reproduced, advertised, sold, distributed, or possessed with intent to sell or distribute, any recordings of a child engaging in sexually explicit conduct … if the person knows the character and content of the sexually explicit conduct involving the child and if the person knew or reasonably should have known that the child engaging in the sexually explicit conduct was under 18 years old.

A person responsible for a child’s welfare who knowingly permitted, allowed, or encouraged the child to engage in sexually explicit conduct (as listed above) may also be charged with this crime.

Finally, it’s an affirmative defense to this crime that the defendant had reasonable cause to believe that the child had attained the age of 18 year.  That defendant has a burden, by a preponderance of the evidence, to show the defense.

What are the elements of this crime?

All crimes in Wisconsin have elements.  An element of a part of the crime, and all of the elements must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.  If the government cannot prove a certain element, they certainly cannot obtain a conviction.  While the statutory language of this crime is a bit difficult, the jury instructions make things a little easier.  Wisconsin Jury Instruction Criminal 2120 describes sexual exploitation of a child:

  • Firstly, the defendant employed, used, persuaded, induced, enticed, or coerced the victim to engage in sexually explicit conduct; and
  • Secondly, the victim was under 18 years old; and
  • Thirdly, the defendant acted for the purpose of recording or displaying in any way the sexually explicit conduct; and
  • Finally, the defendant knew that the person in the recording or display was engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

Sexually explicit conduct means actual or simulated sexual intercourse, bestiality, masturbation, sexual sadism, sexual masochistic abuse, or lewd exhibition of an intimate part.

Applying these elements to specific facts makes understanding the crime easier. For example, let’s consider a situation involving the defendant and victim.  Defendant simply encouraged the victim to have sex with him or her.  The victim was 12 years old, certainly under the 18 year requirement.  And the defendant have the purpose of taking a video of the sex.  Clearly this satisfies the definition of the crime.  Additionally, it’s important to point out that the government can still charge you with additional offenses.  For example, in the above-referenced case, let’s assume the defendant is 30 years old.  Because the child is under 16 years old, arguably the defendant also committed second degree sexual assault of a child.

What about exploitation based on the distribution of a recording?

Importantly, sometimes the defendant need not be present to be charged with sexual exploitation of a child.  Wisconsin Criminal Jury Instruction 2122 describes the crime prohibited in section 948.05(1m) of the Wisconsin Statutes:

  • Firstly, the defendant distributed a recording of a child engaged in sexually explicit conduct; and
  • Secondly, the defendant knew that the child in the recording was engaged in sexually explicit conduct; and
  • Thirdly, the child had not attained the age of 18 years; and
  • Finally, the defendant knew or reasonably should have known that the child was under 18.

First, let’s point out something incredibly important: if you’re charged with sexual exploitation of a child under this subsection, you’ll also likely be charged with possession of child pornography.  Possession of child pornography is a serious criminal charge and conviction includes a mandatory term of initial confinement of 3 years.

Second, this crime is clearly less active than the first version.  To be convicted, the defendant must simply forward a video to someone else.  That video must show a child engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

A camera takes a picture of a child
Sexual exploitation of a child is a serious felony in Wisconsin. Contact a top sexual assault defense attorney at (414) 270-0202 for help.

Affirmative defense – the defendant believed the child was over 18 years old

An affirmative defense refers to the concept that the defendant committed the crime, but some sort of additional fact or circumstances renders him not guilty.  While in most sexual assault cases the defendant’s knowledge of the victim’s age doesn’t matter, it does when analyzing sexual exploitation of a child cases.

Specifically, it’s an affirmative defense to the charge if the defendant has reasonable cause to believe that the child was over 18 years old.  The burden in proving an affirmative defense is on the defendant.  He must show, by the greater weight of the credible evidence, that the defense is established.

For example, if victim shows defendant a State of Wisconsin driver license indicating she’s 20 years old, that may satisfy the requirement.  Importantly, again, this affirmative defense does not apply to other sexual assault charges.  Mistake or lack of knowledge does not invalidate or provide a defense to sexual assault of a child cases.


Can I win my sexual exploitation of a child case?

This question is best answered while sitting down with your criminal defense attorney.  No criminal attorney can guarantee you a specific result, but we can discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your case.  We can discuss motion issues and the possibility of suppression of evidence.  When we put all those things together, it’s easier to see the big picture.  It’s easier to see what your chances of winning are.

Our attorneys have won all kinds of cases.  We’ve won at trial.  We’ve even won at sentencing.  And we want to win your case.  We believe that hiring a criminal defense law firm with a reputation for winning is in any defendant’s best interest.


We defend sexual exploitation of a child cases

The criminal defense attorneys at Meyer Van Severen, S.C. recognize how serious the charges you face are.  And not only that, we recognize that you’re already paying a social toll well before conviction.  At Meyer Van Severen we focus on providing not only the aggressive criminal defense representation you need to win your case, but we care about you as a person.  After all, we can win a case, but you need to walk out on the other end of this thing in one piece.

Contact Meyer Van Severen, S.C. at (414) 270-0202.  Let’s start fighting your case together.