These days, we use computers and the internet for just about everything. Virtually everyone is online, including small children.
In fact, statistics from the US department of education suggest that 81% of children as young as three are on the internet. Unfortunately, predators are also online, and often use the internet to prey on unsuspecting children. This can lead to exposure to inappropriate content, or even to children agreeing to meet predators in person.
To prevent crimes against children committed over the internet, Illinois has developed the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, which takes a multifaceted approach to fighting these offenses. The Task Force provides educational resources for parents regarding how to protect kids from online predators, and also assists parents in reporting criminal acts such as sexual exploitation of a child and sexual solicitation of a child.
Although encouraging increased reporting of internet crimes has a largely positive effect, this may also lead to overzealous efforts to catch predators on the internet. This in turn may lead to innocent people facing accusations of these grievous offenses.
If you’re in Illinois, it’s important to understand the Task Force, both to protect your loved ones and to be aware of potential criminal charges you could face if accused.
Below, we’re going to provide a guide to some of the types of offenses the Task Force is attempting to fight, and the repercussions you could face if accused and convicted of these offenses.
Sexual Exploitation of a Child
According to Illinois law, sexual exploitation of a child occurs when, in either the physical or virtual presence of a child, someone engages in a sexual act or exposes his or her sexual organs for sexual gratification.
The penalties for sexual exploitation of a child depend on the specifics of the offense.
Generally, this offense is charged as a misdemeanor, which is punishable by less than one year in prison. However, this still carries the more serious consequence of having a criminal record of a sex crime against children.
If the offense is committed within 500 feet of a school, against a victim under the age of 13, or if the defendant has previous sex crime convictions, this becomes a Class 4 felony, which is punishable by 1-3 years in prison.
Indecent Solicitation of a Child
The crime of indecent solicitation of a child is an often-complex offense with serious repercussions if you are convicted.
This crime broadly encompasses soliciting a child for a sex act in person, over the phone, in writing, or on the internet. Many people who are charged with this serious offense are left confused and not understanding how their actions were a crime.
Numerous defendants charged with the offense are also first-time offenders. This is partly because this offense encompasses behaviors that many people don’t know are criminal. Further, the advent of the internet has made unwitting commission of this offense more common – there’s no way of knowing whether that “19-year-old” you’re chatting with is in reality a minor child.
Indecent solicitation of a child is a Class 4 Felony, which is punishable by up to three years in prison. Moreover, you will be left with a devastating criminal record of sex crimes against children should you be convicted, and possible sex offender registration.
If you’re facing charges like these, it is incredibly important to proactively fight back with the strongest possible defense.
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.