Child sexual abuse charges should not be taken lightly in Illinois. A Quincy man was recently sentenced to two decades behind bars after he was found guilty of sex crimes against two girls.
He was accused of inappropriately touching the girls in 2015 or 2016. The incident came to light in January 2017, and the man was convicted after a two-day trial in May of this year. He was sentenced to 15 years behind bars on a count of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child and seven years on a count of aggravated criminal sexual abuse. He will serve 22 years in total.
These charges are just two of many listed crimes relating to sexually abusing or assaulting a child in our state. The more you know about the differences between these crimes, the better you can prepare yourself if you are arrested and charged.
Let’s break down criminal sexual abuse charges in Illinois, including how those laws work when a child is involved.
Criminal Sexual Abuse
Criminal sexual abuse is a charge similar to criminal sexual assault, but it does not involve sexual penetration. It does, however, cover molestation and other types of sexual conduct through force or threat of force.
If a victim could not consent or was forced to engaged in sexual conduct, the crime is a Class 4 felony in our state. Convicted offenders may be sentenced to up to three years behind bars (up to seven if the offender has previous convictions on their record).
Interestingly, criminal sexual abuse may involve sexual penetration if the crime is committed by a minor. Illinois will charge someone with criminal sexual abuse if sexual penetration or conduct occurred with:
- A victim between the ages of 9-16 and a perpetrator under the age of 17
- A victim between the ages of 13-16 and a perpetrator who is less than five years older than the victim
This charge is a class A misdemeanor. Misdemeanors are not as serious as felonies, but upon conviction, an offender may still face up to a year behind bars.
Aggravated Criminal Sexual Abuse
As with many other crimes, criminal sexual abuse charges are elevated if aggravating factors are present. Aggravated criminal sexual abuse is a class 2 felony, and the charges may result in seven years behind bars.
Other cases that may result in aggravated criminal sexual abuse charges include:
- The victim is 17 or under and the perpetrator is a family member
- The victim is 12 or under and the perpetrator is 17 years or older
- The victim is 8 or under and the perpetrator is under 17 years old
- The victim is 9-16 years old and the perpetrator used force or threat of force
These are also considered class 2 felonies, although there are separate sentencing guidelines for accused family members.
As you can see, generally speaking child sexual abuse is charged as aggravated criminal sexual abuse by definition. The only real exceptions are those listed above, where the perpetrator is under 17 or the victim is between 13 and 16 and the perpetrator is less than five years older.
Other Illinois Sex Crimes Involving Minors
Criminal Sexual Assault
This is a crime that is more commonly known as “rape.” It involves sexual penetration, typically without consent. There are four circumstances in which sexual penetration is considered a crime:
- Force or the threat of force was used
- The victim was unable to give consent (unconscious, asleep, intoxicated, etc.)
- A family member is accused of sexually assaulting a minor
- The victim was between the ages of 13-18, perpetrator was over 17 and held a position of trust or authority.
In Illinois, criminal sexual assault is a Class 1 felony; offenders may be sentenced to 4-15 years in prison. Charges are increased to a Class X felony if the offender has previous sexual assault convictions on their record.
Aggravated Criminal Sexual Assault
This charge is a more serious version of criminal sexual assault. In order to be charged with aggravated criminal sexual assault, all of the elements of a criminal sexual assault charge must be present, plus any of the following:
- A deadly weapon was present; the perpetrator possessed, or discharged a firearm
- The perpetrator threatened the life of the victim or another person
- The perpetrator caused bodily harm to the victim or another person
- The perpetrator administered a controlled substance to the victim (“date rape drugs,” etc.)
- The victim was over the age of 60 or physically handicapped.
These are called “aggravating factors,” and also apply to aggravated criminal sexual abuse charges.
Someone may also be charged with aggravated criminal sexual assault if sexual penetration occurred with one of the following:
- A victim under the age of 8 (perpetrator under the age of 17)
- A victim between the ages of 9-12 (perpetrator under the age of 17 but used force or threats)
- A victim with profound mental retardation
Aggravated criminal sexual assault is a Class X felony. Offenders may spend up to 30 years behind bars, although life sentences may be given in certain circumstances. A second or subsequent conviction will result in a life prison sentence.
Predatory Criminal Sexual Assault
This crime primarily deals with sexual penetration involving a minor, and is a Class X felony. Predatory criminal sexual assault is a crime that involves a victim under the age of 12 and a perpetrator over the age of 17.
If any of the following elements are present, the sentence could be increased to 60 years behind bars if the perpetrator:
- Used or discharged a firearm
- Administered controlled substances to the victim
- Caused great bodily harm to the victim
One thing that all child sexual abuse charges have in common? The consequences are incredibly serious, typically involving prison time, high fines, and registration on the Illinois sex offender list. If you are charged, you need to act fast to fight back and protect your future.
About the Author
Sami Azhari has been working as a lawyer since 2007, after receiving his Juris Doctor from the Michigan State University College of Law. He has handled numerous state and federal cases, and is known throughout the Chicago and Rolling Meadows area for providing his clients with high-quality, skilled representation. He has been recognized by SuperLawyers, the National Trial Lawyers Association, and other notable organizations, and has spoken at a number of legal conferences.