Statutory rape is a complicated crime. It involves young people and criminalizes behavior that is often just normal behavior for many teens. In fact, it is one of the only crimes that makes an act illegal, regardless of consent or the state of mind of the alleged victim. The consequences of statutory rape are harsh, including potential jail time, registration as a sex offender, and a future burdened with a criminal record. If you are facing criminal charges for statutory rape in Chicago our experienced legal team can help.
Gus Kostopoulos is a former Chicago prosecutor and understands how the state will approach and try charges for statutory rape. He will use this insight to stay one step ahead and prevent the state from building a solid case against you. Contact his office today to learn more about how he can help you limit the consequences of your arrest for statutory rape.
Statutory Rape in Chicago
In Chicago, statutory rape can be charged as criminal sexual abuse or criminal sexual assault. The specific crime you will be charged with will depend on your age, the age of your victim, and the type of sexual behavior involved in your alleged act.
Under Illinois law, is illegal for anyone under the age of 17 to engage in sexual conduct, which involves a lot more than just sex. Sexual conduct is defined to mean touching the sex organs, anus, or breast of another person for sexual gratification or arousal. This includes contact that is made directly with another person’s skin or through clothing. Sexual conduct covers a broad range of sexual activities, including many that are present in young relationships.
Statutory rape is most frequently charged as criminal sexual abuse in Chicago. Criminal sexual abuse, as defined in 720 ILCS 5/11-1.5, occurs when you engage in sexual conduct with a person under the age of 17. You can be charged with criminal sexual abuse if:
- You are under the age of 17 and engage in sexual conduct with a person between the ages of 9 and 16; or
- You engage in sexual conduct with a person between the ages of 13 and 16, and you are within 5 years of that person’s age.
Criminal sexual abuse is Class A Misdemeanor in Chicago, carrying a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a fine of $1,000.
Aggravated Sexual Abuse
If the age difference between you and the victim is significant, you can be charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse. Aggravated criminal sexual abuse occurs when:
- You are over the age of 17 and engage in sexual conduct with a person between the ages of 9 and 16; or
- You engage in sexual conduct with a person between the ages of 13 and 16, and you are not within 5 years of that person’s age.
Aggravated criminal sexual abuse is a Class 2 Felony in Chicago, carrying a possible sentence of 3-7 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.
Sexual assault is the legal term for rape in Illinois. Sexual assault, as defined in 720 ILCS 5/11-1.2, occurs when a person engaged in forcible or unwanted sexual penetration with another person. The Illinois sexual assault law makes it a crime to have sexual intercourse with a victim that is “unable to understand the situation or unable to give knowing consent.”
Since the age of consent in Illinois is 17, it is automatically a crime to have sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 17. The age of consent is basically the minimum age that the state believes a person has the maturity and ability to understand the nature and consequences of sex. Even though a person under the age of 17 can agree to have sex, they cannot provide legal consent to the act. This can result in charges for criminal sexual assault even if the other person genuinely wanted to have sex, simply because they were underage.
Sexual assault of a person under the age of 17 is a Class 1 Felony, which carries a possible sentence of 4-15 years in prison and a fine of $25,000. If the victim of sexual assault is under the age of 13, the crime becomes a Class X Felony, punishable by 6-60 years in prison.
Romeo & Juliet Laws in Illinois
What happens when young people fall in love and want to express their feelings by having sex? Under Illinois state law, that expression of love is considered statutory rape. Some states have expressed understanding and empathy for teens by passing what are known as “Romeo and Juliet” laws.
Romeo and Juliet laws carve out an exception for would-be statutory rape offenders. Under the laws, teens who meet certain age requirements and engage in consensual, non-violent sex can escape criminal liability under state statutory rape laws. Most state Romeo and Juliet laws require that teens are at least 14-years-old and that the age difference between them does not exceed 4 years.
In Illinois, young teens convicted under state statutory rape laws are required to register as sex offenders for a minimum of 10 years. This is an incredibly harsh consequence for having sex with someone you love, simply because you happen to be underage. In 2011, Illinois lawmakers proposed a Romeo and Juliet law of its own.
Under the law, any teen who engaged in consensual, non-violent sex would not be considered a statutory rape offender. Those who had previously been convicted could even petition to have their name removed from the state’s sex offender registry. Unfortunately, the Illinois Romeo and Juliet measure was defeated in the state legislature. Today, it is still a crime for any young person under the age of 17 to engage in sexual activity.
Defending Charges of Statutory Rape
Statutory rape is one of the most serious crimes in Chicago, but also one of the most difficult to prosecute. Prosecutors must prove that you are guilty of each element of the crime of statutory rape in order to convict you. Crimes of rape are often reduced to “he said, she said” arguments and lack probative evidence that is necessary to get a conviction. You can make it even tougher for the prosecution to carry their burden by arguing legal defenses that excuse, explain, or justify the incident. Defenses to statutory rape in Illinois include:
- False accusation;
- Mistaken identity; and
- Mistake of age.
Consequences of a Conviction for Statutory Rape
Statutory rape carries the possibility of imprisonment and steep fines. However, the consequences do not end there. Once you have paid your debt to society and completed your criminal sentence you will still be faced with major life challenges. If you are convicted of statutory rape in Chicago you may be required to register with the state as a sex offender and will carry the burden of a criminal record with you for the rest of your life.
As a sex offender, you will be required to submit information about yourself (including a photograph, social media handles, your place of employment, and distinguishing physical characteristics) and your crime (including the age of your victim and where it happened). You must update this information in person every year for a minimum of ten years. Registered sex offenders are prohibited from:
- Living or being within 500 feet of a school, place of worship, or day-care center;
- Visiting public parks; and
- Using social media.
If you have a criminal record and people know that you have been convicted of a sex offense you will find it very difficult to get a job, rent or buy a home, and enroll in educational classes. The stigma of being a convicted sex offender can be catastrophic. You can avoid these (and other) consequences by hiring an experienced Chicago statutory rape attorney to defend you.
Call Chicago Statutory Rape Attorney Gus Kostopoulos Today
Are you facing criminal charges for statutory rape in Chicago? If so, do not hesitate to contact the experienced statutory rape attorneys at the Kostopoulos Law Group. We know that the potential consequences of a conviction are severe and will fight to get the charges against you reduced or thrown out. We have more than 30 years of combined legal experience and have successfully handled a variety of complex and serious legal matters, including charges for statutory rape.
Contact our Chicago statutory rape attorneys today to schedule a free consultation. We will review your case, determine the best legal strategy for your defense, and answer the questions you have. Your future depends on the decisions you make today, so call us today.