Short of murder, sex crimes are some of the most grievous offenses a person can commit. Accordingly, sex crimes are severely charged and penalized, and a sex crime conviction carries a negative stigma that will come back to haunt you – possibly for the rest of your life.
Most sex crimes take place between two individuals in private, meaning that there are often conflicting narratives regarding the alleged offense that complicate criminal prosecution. These factors mean that innocent people are sometimes accused of sex crimes and face grievous consequences for an offense that they did not commit, that was in fact consensual, or that they did not understand constituted a criminal act.
Because of this, it is important to know what counts as a sex crime under the laws of Illinois. So below we are going to cover some of the most common sex crime charges in our state, as well as the criminal penalties you can expect if convicted of these offenses.
If you are facing sex crime charges or are concerned that you might, it is imperative to consult a sex crimes attorney as soon as is possible.
Sexual assault occurs when an individual commits a penetrative sex act with a victim by force and without the victim’s consent, or when the victim is not capable of giving consent at the time of the act. This includes sex acts against victims who are incapacitated, mentally disabled, or underage. You will learn more about underage victims under the specific offense of “statutory rape.”
Sentencing and penalties are as follows for Illinois sexual assault:
- First conviction: Class 1 felony punishable by 4-15 years in prison.
- Second conviction: Class X felony punishable by 30-60 years or life in prison.
- Aggravated criminal sexual assault: This is sexual assault committed with use of a weapon, death threats, against a mentally disabled victim, or against a victim under 8 years of age. This is considered a Class X felony with a mandatory minimum of 6-30 years in prison, with a possible extension of up to life in prison.
In Illinois, persons who engage in sexual activity with a victim under the age of 18 can be charged with statutory rape. This is based on the idea that a minor under 18 is unable to consent to sexual activity because he or she lacks the maturity and judgement necessary to make a knowing decision about sexual activity.
There are several charges that can arise from statutory rape.
In Illinois, the following circumstances can lead to charges for aggravated criminal sexual abuse:
- The defendant is over 17 years old and engages in sexual conduct with a child under 13.
- The defendant is under 17 years old and engages in sexual conduct with a child under nine.
- The defendant is more than five years older than a victim who is over the age of 13 but under 17 years old.
The following circumstances can lead to charges for sexual assault:
- The defendant sexually penetrates a child over 13 but under 18, and is over 17 and in a position of supervision or trust over the child.
- The defendant sexually penetrates a child under the age of 13.
Soliciting a child to engage in sexual activity or arranging to meet a child without permission from the child’s parents can result in charges for child enticement.
Many couples engage in sexting or send one another explicit pictures. If you engage in sexting with a minor, this could result in child pornography charges.
Romeo and Juliet Exception
The Romeo and Juliet exceptions are aimed at protecting minors who engage in sexual activity with other minors of a similar age from serious criminal charges.
Statutory rape is punished less severely under the following circumstances:
- The victim is over the age of 9 but under 17 years old, and the defendant is under 17 years old.
- The victim is over 13 years old but under 17 years old, and the defendant is less than five years older.
Prostitution, pandering, pimping and solicitation are all considered sex crimes that will be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances of the alleged offense.
Lewd conduct or public indecency covers a broad variety of offenses that typically involve sexual activity of some kind in a public place. This could include oral sex in a public setting, exposing one’s genitalia in public, and masturbation in public. Many lewd conduct arrests are made at beaches or in public restrooms.
Illinois law prohibits making or distributing images depicting or involving a child under 18 years of age. This could include videos, films or photos of minors participating in sexual acts or exposing body parts. Child pornography charges could also result from allowing one’s child to participate in pornography or coercing children to do so.
If you have further questions about whether specific acts constitute a sex crime – or any other type of crime – in Illinois, please do not hesitate to set up a free consultation with us as soon as possible.
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.