Milwaukee Child Exploitation Defense Lawyer

child exploitation lawyer with parent and childSexually exploiting a minor is a severe crime in Wisconsin. It is a felony regardless of the offender’s age. The punishment is harsh, involving significant jail time and expensive fines. Aside from criminal sentencing, a child exploitation conviction can destroy a person’s reputation, take away their freedom, and cause challenges in looking for housing or a job after release from prison.

At Hart Powell, S.C., we have decades of experience defending clients against sex crime charges. Your arrest for child exploitation does not have to ruin the rest of your life. Call us at (414) 271-9595 for a confidential consultation to learn more about how our Milwaukee internet sex crimes defense attorneys can help.

What Constitutes Sexual Exploitation of a Child?

State law defines the sexual exploitation of a child as:

  • Persuading, enticing, employing, coercing, or using any child to participate in a sexually explicit act for the purpose of displaying or recording the act somehow;
  • Displaying or recording a child engaged in sexually explicit conduct;
  • Profiting from, producing, distributing, reproducing, importing into the state, selling, advertising, performing in, possessing, or promoting any recording of a child participating in a sexually explicit activity if the perpetrator knows the content and character of the sexually explicit conduct involving the child and knows or should reasonably know the child is under 18; or
  • Knowingly allowing, permitting, or encouraging a child to engage in sexually explicit acts by a person responsible for the child’s welfare.

Understanding the Elements of Child Exploitation

 The prosecutor must prove all elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. A conviction isn’t possible if they can’t prove a specific element.

The elements involved in the sexual exploitation of a child are:

  • The defendant used, induced, coerced, employed, persuaded, or enticed the victim to participate in sexually explicit conduct;
  • The victim was under 18;
  • The defendant acted for the purpose of displaying or recording the sexual activity in any way; and
  • The defendant knew the person in the display or recording was participating in a sexually explicit act.

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

How the Distribution of a Recording Affects a Child Exploitation Charge

The state could charge someone with sexual exploitation of a child even if the defendant wasn’t present during the sexually explicit conduct. The crime involves numerous elements the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • The defendant distributed a recording of a child participating in a sexually explicit act;
  • The defendant knew the child in the recording was engaging in sexually explicit conduct;
  • The child was not 18 at the time of the offense; and
  • The defendant knew or should have reasonably known the child was under 18.

Charges for sexual exploitation of a child might also lead to a charge for possession of child pornography. A conviction can hinge on the defendant forwarding a video of a child performing sexually explicit acts to another person.

Criminal Penalties for Sexual Exploitation of a Child

A conviction for child exploitation is a class C felony under state law if the defendant is at least 18. If they are under 18, the offense is a class F felony.

A class F felony conviction can include:

  • Up to 12 years and six months imprisonment
  • A maximum of a $25,000 fine

A class C felony conviction is punishable by:

  • No more than 40 years in prison
  • Up to a $100,000 fine

Anyone convicted of child exploitation must also register as a sex offender. Registration must occur once a year, starting after completing the criminal sentence.

Registration is mandatory for up to 15 years for most sex crimes. However, the court might require lifetime registration if the defendant is a sexually violent person or received a conviction of a sex offense on at least two different occasions.

Teddy bear next to scales and gavelDefending Against Child Exploitation Charges

Every criminal case is unique. The circumstances involved vary from one defendant to the next. Because that’s true, your Milwaukee child exploitation defense lawyer from Hart Powell, S.C. will approach your case from a fresh perspective.

An affirmative defense might make sense in specific situations. It means you committed the crime, but additional facts or circumstances excuse the actions.

The victim’s age doesn’t matter in many sex offense cases, but when it involves the sexual exploitation of a child, age is a crucial factor while examining the evidence. We might argue you didn’t know the child wasn’t over 18 when you committed the crime.

Another possible defense is proving the person or people shown in the sexually explicit material are over 18. They might be adults capable of deciding whether to perform sexual acts in photos or videos.

Sometimes, sexual material is explicit but doesn’t necessarily depict sexual activity. An experienced forensic expert witness can demonstrate whether the state properly searched your computer. If not, determining whether you intentionally searched for exploited child media and material is challenging.

It is possible you didn’t know the material showing a child engaging in sexually explicit conduct was on your computer. Someone might have borrowed your computer and searched for the material. We could argue you didn’t knowingly possess the videos or images.

Fight Against Your Charges with Help from Hart Powell, S.C.

At Hart Powell, S.C., our Milwaukee criminal defense lawyers understand the toll an arrest for a sex crime takes on a person’s life. The stigma of any criminal offense involving a child can last a lifetime. You should not handle your case alone. Let us prepare a solid defense strategy to fight for you in court.

If you were arrested for or charged with sexual exploitation of a child, call us at (414) 271-9595 for a confidential consultation today. A Milwaukee child exploitation defense lawyer is ready to protect your rights and try to secure your freedom and future.

Written by Michael Hart & Craig Powell

Last Updated : May 2, 2023