Consent to engage in sexual contact of any kind must be clear, knowing and voluntary prior to and throughout sexual activity.

Under Wisconsin law, sexual contact or intercourse (consensual or not) with a person under the age of 16 is a criminal offense. See Wis. Stat. Chapter 948.

Understanding Consent

  • Consent is a knowing, voluntary and clear mutual agreement to engage in sexual activity.
  • Consent is effective when it is freely and actively given and clearly communicated by words or actions.
  • There must be active consent by all participants for each form of sexual activity: a clear yes; not the absence of no. Silence and passivity do not equal consent.
  • Consent cannot be given by someone who is incapacitated:
    • Incapacitation is a state in which a person cannot make rational, reasonable decisions because they lack the capacity to give knowing consent (e.g., to understand the “who, what, where, why or how” of their sexual interaction).
    • Incapacitation can occur mentally or physically from mental disability, sleep, involuntary physical restraint, from drugs or alcohol consumption or blackout.
  • Consent is possible only when there is equal power.
  • Consent to sexual activity can be withdrawn at any time as long as withdrawal is clearly communicated.
  • Consent cannot be given when it is the result of coercion, intimidation, force, or threat of harm.