The era of “Me Too” has brought sexual consent and the laws surrounding the topic to the forefront.
To many, it may seem quite clear when you do and do not have consent. But there are many situations where a person can find themselves arrested and charged with a sex crime despite believing themselves to be in the clear.
It’s important to understand the different laws in Illinois surrounding sexual consent. These laws are diverse and cover a wide range of actions. You might be surprised at the broad range of actions that can land you in court on criminal sexual assault charges.
Sexual Consent in Illinois
Consent is a legal term used when both parties were willing and understanding of their sexual experience.
Under state law, there are a few different situations that could be considered non-consensual:
- The other party did not agree to do it
- The other party wasn’t able to agree – for example, if they were asleep or drunk
- If you are in a position of trust, power or authority – for example, a babysitter, teacher or relative – and you used your position to convince the other party to engage in sexual activity
- The other party said they didn’t want to do it – for example, if they said no, or pushed you away
- You hurt or threatened the other party to coerce them into engaging in sexual activity
- The other person was very young (usually, people younger than 14 can’t consent)
- The other party told you to stop, even after initially consenting
One of the most common instances of this is when two people engage in a sexual act but one is intoxicated due to the use of alcohol or other substances. According to the law, this person would be unable to provide consent.
Another tricky example would be if two people initially consented to the act but, during the course of the encounter, one party changed their mind and asked to stop. You could easily lose consent and be charged with a crime if you didn’t stop, even though the experience began with both parties consenting.
What Are Sexual Assault Laws in Illinois?
Criminal sexual assault in Illinois is defined as:
“A person commits criminal sexual assault if that person commits an act of sexual penetration and: [1 of 4 of the below]
1) Uses force or threat of force
2) Knows that the victim is unable to understand the nature of the act or is unable to give knowing consent
3) Is a family member of the victim and the victim is under 18 years of age
4) Is 17 years of age or over and holds a position of trust, authority, or supervision in relation to the victim, and the victim is at least 13 years of age but under 18 years of age.”
Criminal sexual assault can reach the aggravated level if it also meets one of the below elements:
“1) the person displays, threatens to use, or uses a dangerous weapon, other than a firearm, or any other object fashioned or used in a manner that leads the victim, under the circumstances, reasonably to believe that the object is a dangerous weapon;
2) the person causes bodily harm to the victim, except as provided in paragraph (10);
3) the person acts in a manner that threatens or endangers the life of the victim or any other person;
4) the person commits the criminal sexual assault during the course of committing or attempting to commit any other felony;
5) the victim is 60 years of age or older;
6) the victim is a person with a physical disability;
7) the person delivers (by injection, inhalation, ingestion, transfer of possession, or any other means) any controlled substance to the victim without the victim’s consent or by threat or deception for other than medical purposes;
8) the person is armed with a firearm;
9) the person personally discharges a firearm during
the commission of the offense; or
10) the person personally discharges a firearm during the commission of the offense, and that discharge proximately causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, permanent disfigurement, or death to another person”.
Criminal sexual assault is a Class 1 felony in the state of Illinois. This type of felony is punishable by between 4 and 15 years in a state prison and/or a fine not to exceed $25,000.
If the person has been convicted of criminal sexual assault previously, or if a charge is elevated to aggravated criminal sexual assault, the crime becomes a Class X felony. This punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of 6 years up to 30 years and a fine not to exceed $25,000. An aggravated change can also extend the punishment to between 30 and 60 years in prison for a Class X Felony.
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 Avvo (2013 and 2018), SuperLawyers (2015-2020), The National Trial Lawyers, and other notable organizations, and has spoken at a number of legal conferences.