The dangers of social media.
Your son has dated his girlfriend Jane for 6 months. At the last high school dance he breaks up with Jane and takes up with her best friend Mary. After a very public breakup, they exchange barbs with each other using various social media. As a result of facebook postings and twitter messages the word gets around school. The police school liaison officer decides to cool down the situation by intervening. The PSL interviews Jane and your son. The next thing you know, your son is charged with second degree sexual assault under Wis. stats. sec. 948.02(1)(b). Your son now will face up to 40 years in prison and registration as a sexual offender!
Consent. Does it even matter? Age. Does it matter?
“But she consented to fool around!” says your son. “Plus,” your son tells you, “we never had sex — and she’s 16 years old!” “Yes,” responds the officer, “but Jane was less than age 16 when they started fooling around.” “Secondly,” explains the officer, “if she is under age 16 she cannot give consent.” “Consent does matter,” the officer states, as he handcuffs your son. “But my son is only 17 — he’s not an adult,” you counter. “Age 17 is the legal age when it comes to criminal offenses,” the officer informs you. “Your son, for the purpose of criminal prosecution, is an adult,” the officer informs you as he places your son in the back seat of the squad car.
But we didn’t have sex! We had our clothes on at all times!
“But we never took our clothes off!” says your son, who is now crying in the backseat of the squad car. “It doesn’t matter, son. If you touched her over or under her clothing you are still guilty,” the officer explains. “Miss,” the officer says, “I’d get your son an attorney.”
Is this true?
The above scenario is true, and takes place with far greater frequency than you would like to know. Teenagers violate this law at every dance, on most dates, and even in school. Talk to your kids; inform them of the laws. Be proactive. However, if the above happens, warn your children about the perils of social media. Warn them that they do not have to talk to the police liaison officers. Tell them to assert their right to remain silent. Get an attorney involved. These situations can be “fixed’ in many instances, but an ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cure.
Greg Petit is a founding partner at Petit & Dommershausen, SC. His practice focuses primarily on criminal defense and appeals including: homicide, sexual assault, drug delivery, assault/battery, white collar, drunk driving/OWI
. He practices in a wide range of counties throughout Wisconsin including Appleton in Outagamie, Oshkosh in Winnebago, Waupaca, Calumet, Oconto, Door and Fond du Lac counties. Please give him a call today at 920-739-9900.
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