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"Upskirting" now a felony sex crime in Wisconsin

It has long been a crime to take a picture of people under their clothes without their knowledge or consent in Wisconsin, sometimes known as "upskirting." Under a somewhat strange twist in state law, however, the person taking the photo could only be prosecuted under felony charges if the person photographed was captured nude. 

That changed on November 11, 2015, when Governor Scott Walker signed into law a bill that allows prosecutors to bring felony charges regardless of what the person photographed was wearing underneath their clothes. Lawmakers introduced the bill in response to a series of arrests and subsequent prosecution of several Wisconsin residents accused of taking upskirt photos. 

State Representative Melissa Sargent co-sponsored the bill. She called the law a response to changing technology. According to Rep. Sargent, when cameras were larger, it was more difficult to engage in the type of behavior prohibited by existing state law. Now that cameras are on cell phones and devices even smaller, Sargent and other lawmakers want to give prosecutors discretion when pressing charges for taking illicit photographs.

Representative Jim Ott co-sponsored the bill. The bill passed unanimously in the state legislature earlier this year before recently being signed into law. Anyone convicted under the new law can face three years in prison and a $10,000 fine. 

The new law is further evidence on how serious Wisconsin legislators and law enforcement take Internet sex crimes. From solicitation of a minor to posting nude pictures of ex-partners online without their consent, running afoul of state and federal laws regarding sex crimes can have serious consequences, including the potential to face significant jail time and register as a sex offender. 

Wisconsin residents accused of Internet sex crimes should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to learn about their legal options and potential consequences. 

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