When does consensual sex between two people turn into statutory rape? To help answer this question it is important to know that – in the case of underage sex – the idea of “consent” is less of a factual argument and more of a defined legal term.
Age of Consent in Illinois
In Illinois, the age of consent is 17. If a person has a “position of supervision” over a minor, the age of consent is 18. This means that a person under the age of 17 is incapable of consenting to sexual conduct. Even if they are fully committed to and interested in having sex, the law states that they cannot consent. Statutory rape occurs when a person under the age of 17 engages in sexual conduct.
Who Can Be Charged With Statutory Rape in Illinois?
The law says that it is illegal for anyone under the age of 17 to engage in sexual conduct. Sexual conduct is defined as “knowing touching or fondling….either directly or through clothes” of sex organs of another person. A woman’s breasts are considered “sex organs” for the purposes of this definition.
So, if two teenagers, both age 16, agree to have sex, they could potentially both be charged with statutory rape of the other. Granted, outside knowledge of the conduct would generally be required for some to be charged with a sex crime. In theory, however, both teens could be charged.
What is “Statutory Rape” Charged As in Illinois?
The severity of the crime that is charged will depend on the facts and circumstances specific to the alleged statutory rape. Generally, the greater the difference in age between the parties involved, the more severe the charge.
Criminal Sexual Abuse
Statutory rape is most often charged as Criminal Sexual Abuse. Criminal sexual abuse occurs when:
- a person under 17 engages in sexual conduct with a person between the ages of 9 and 16; or
- a victim is between the age of 13 and 16, and the alleged offender is within 5 years of the victim’s age.
Criminal sexual abuse is a Class A Misdemeanor. If convicted, you could face up to one year in county jail, be required to pay monetary fines of up to $1,000, and/or ordered to complete probation.
Aggravated Criminal Sexual Abuse
Aggravated criminal sexual abuse occurs when:
- a person over the age of 17 engages in sexual conduct with a person between the ages of 9 and 16; or
- A victim is between 13 and 16, and the alleged offender is not within 5 years of the victim’s age.
Aggravated criminal sexual abuse is a Class 2 Felony. If convicted, you could face 3-7 years in prison and fines of up to $25,000.
Predatory Criminal Sexual Assault of a Child
A person may be charged with predatory criminal sexual assault of a child if they were 17 or older and engaged in sexual conduct with a child under 13.
If convicted of this Class X Felony, you may face 6-60 years in prison.
Note, there are also other lesser offenses that could be charged, including solicitation, grooming, and exploitation.
Defense to Statutory Rape in Illinois
If you are accused of statutory rate in Illinois you may be able to assert the affirmative defense of “mistake of age.” In asserting an affirmative defense you concede that you engaged in the prohibited behavior, but explain that you did not do knowingly or purposefully break the law. Here, the mistake of age must be reasonably based on your legitimate and honest reliance on information that would lead you to believe a victim was at least 17.
A mistake of age defense may be used when you are charged with Criminal Sexual Abuse or Aggravated Criminal Sexual Abuse if the basis of the charge is due to the 5 year difference in age. You may not use the mistake of age defense if you are charged with Aggravated Criminal Sexual Abuse if you are 17 or older and engaged in sexual conduct with a child under 13.
Experienced Statutory Rape Attorneys
If you or someone you know has been accused of or charged with statutory rape in Illinois you should not hesitate to contact the Chicago criminal defense lawyers at Kostopoulos Law Group today. We have decades of experience helping clients fight allegations that could have serious, lifelong consequences. If convicted of a sex crime in Illinois you will be required to register with the state as a sex offender. This can seriously affect your ability to buy or rent a home, get a job, spend time in public parks, or even use social media. Contact our office today to learn about your legal rights and how we can help you.
Kostopoulos Law Group
125 S. Wacker Drive, Suite 300 A
Chicago, IL 60606