Illinois Statutory Rape Laws
Consensual sexual activity with a child under the age of consent, which is generally age 17 in Illinois, has criminal consequences under the state’s statutory rape laws. If the sexual contact is made without consent, the crime is of course much more serious. Consensual sexual conduct is a crime because children are legally incapable of consenting to sexual activity, as they are generally not yet mature enough to fully understand what they are doing. Generally, under Illinois, the greater the age gap, the more severe the penalty.
Several laws in Illinois deal with statutory rape offenses. The offense of aggravated criminal sexual abuse covers several types of criminal conduct. A person can commit this offense by committing an act of sexual penetration or sexual conduct when the victim is at least 13 but under 17, and the perpetrator is at least five years older. Additionally, a person commits this crime when he or she commits an act of sexual conduct, and:
- The perpetrator is under 17, and the victim is under age nine;
- The perpetrator is over 17, and the victim is under age 13; or
- The victim is at least 13 but under 18, and the perpetrator is 17 or older and holds a position of trust, authority, or care over the victim.
Aggravated criminal sexual abuse is a Class 2 felony under Illinois law.
A person commits criminal sexual assault when he or she commits an act of sexual penetration, the victim is at least 13 but under 18, and the perpetrator is at least 17 and holds a position of trust, supervision, or authority over the victim. Sexual assault is a Class 1 felony.
An offender commits predatory criminal sexual assault when he or she commits an act of sexual penetration, or any sexual contact for the purpose of sexual arousal. For this offense, the victim must be under 13, and the perpetrator must be aged 17 or older. Predatory criminal assault is a Class X felony.
Romeo and Juliet Laws
In order to protect the state’s youth from serious criminal prosecutions for consensual sexual conduct with people near their own ages, Illinois has enacted Romeo and Juliet laws, which provide for less harsh penalties. A person commits criminal sexual abuse when he or she commits an act of sexual penetration or sexual conduct, and:
- The perpetrator is under 17, and the victim is at least nine but under 17; or
- The victim is at least 13 but under 17, and the perpetrator is less than five years older than the victim.
Criminal sexual abuse is a Class A misdemeanor in Illinois.
Sex Offender Registry
In addition to criminal penalties, including jail time and fines, a person who is convicted of criminal sexual abuse or sexual assault must register as a sex offender in Illinois.
Reasonable mistake as to age is a defense against criminal sexual abuse. It is also a defense against aggravated sexual abuse when the victim was between 13 and 17, and the defendant was at least five years older. If the defendant believed the child to be aged 17 or older, and has good reason for that belief, he or she will not be guilty of sexual abuse.
Unlike in some other states, marriage is not a defense in Illinois. It is possible to commit statutory rape against one’s spouse. Additionally, consent is not a defense, because underage children do not have the legal capacity to consent.
If you have been arrested for a statutory rape crime, an experienced attorney can help you to craft your best defense and protect your rights. Please contact the skilled Naperville criminal defense attorneys at our firm to learn how we can be of assistance.