Sexual assault is a terrible crime – and Illinois prosecutes it to the fullest extent of the law. Well, when they solve the case, that is.
Recently, the Chicago police’s dismal record of solving sexual assault cases has come into the public eye. Over a decade, of 15,000 cases reported, only a fraction resulted in arrests. In fact, according to the Chicago Tribune, in the last two years, only 6 percent of rape cases led to arrest.
This report may shed new light on Sexual assault cases in Illinois. It may encourage greater prosecution.
Here is what you need to know about sexual assault in Illinois and the penalties that can result if found guilty.
What is Criminal Sexual Assault?
In Illinois, criminal sexual assault is defined as an act of sexual penetration where the defendant also:
- Uses force or threat of force
- Is a family member of a victim under age 18
- Understands that the victim can’t give consent or fully understand the act
- Is an adult in a position of trust, supervision, or authority to the victim – plus the victim is between ages 13 and 18
Sexual assault can be elevated to aggravated sexual assault if:
- A deadly weapon was used in the commission of the crime
- The victim experienced great bodily harm or even death
- The victim was over age 60
- The victim was handicapped physically
- The defendant possessed and discharged a firearm during the offense
These charges may be labeled “predatory” if a defendant older than 17 commits this crime against a victim aged 12 or younger.
The Penalties for Criminal Sexual Assault in Illinois
In Illinois, the first offense of criminal sexual assault is considered a Class 1 felony. That can result in a maximum 15 year prison sentence. For subsequent criminal sexual assault convictions, the charges may climb to a Class X felony, which increases the penalty up to 60 years in prison.
Illinoi prosecutes aggravated sexual assault charges as Class X felonies, which can result in the same penalties mentioned above. Predatory sexual assault follows suit – as many as 60 years behind bars if found guilty.
Criminal Sexual Assault Defenses
Sexual assault accusations are a serious matter. After all, it’s not just your present reputation at stake. Future repercussions can affect your life for years to come.
That’s why you need an experienced attorney in your corner to navigate these grave charges. An attorney can help you construct a defense against allegations. Every case carries unqiue circumstances, but your attorney may employ some common defenses to sexual assault.
The most common comes up if the victim is under age 17. Your attorney might show that consent was given – thus, absence of force – and you believed the victim to be older.
If you did not commit the crime at all, that’s another viable defense. In that case, you will want a lawyer’s support to prove your innocence.
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.