Marital Rape in Illinois

Illinois sexual assault laws, Illinois defense attorney, Illionis criminal lawyer,Historically, in Illinois, a man could not be convicted of rape or other sex offenses if the victim was his wife. However, today, marital rape is a crime, and a person who forces unwanted sexual contact upon a spouse may be prosecuted.

Sexual Assault Laws

In Illinois, a person commits the crime of sexual assault when he or she engages in sexual penetration, either by force or when the victim is unable to consent. “Sexual penetration” means contact between the anus or sex organ of one person and an object or sex organ, mouth, or anus of another person. It also includes any intrusion, however slight, of any part of a person or animal’s body into the anus or sex organ of another person.

The offense of sexual abuse means sexual conduct or fondling, either by force or when the victim is unable to give consent.

Historical Marital Exemption

In the past, Illinois exempted a husband from prosecution for sexual offenses if they were committed against his wife. The rationale was that, by marrying the man, the woman consented to sexual contact and could not revoke the consent. Upon marriage, a woman became her husband’s property. Furthermore, the law deemed a married couple to be one person, and the state could not convict a person of raping himself. Later arguments included the ideas of marital privacy, and that wives could easily make false claims of rape against their husbands.

The marital exemption to rape and other sexual crimes has now been eliminated in every state. In Illinois, the last vestiges of the exemption were eliminated in 1992.

Victim’s Sexual History

Additionally, in Illinois, it is no longer a defense that the victim of a sex crime has had prior sexual contact with the perpetrator. This means that just because a couple is married and have previously engaged in consensual sexual conduct, it does not mean that a spouse can then force contact upon the other spouse. But if at trial the offender raises the defense of consent, evidence of prior consensual sexual contact may be introduced. So if a husband claimed that his wife consented, he may introduce evidence of their sexual history.


Sexual assault is a Class 1 felony, and is punishable by:

  • Four to 30 years imprisonment; and
  • A fine of up to $25,000.

Sexual abuse is generally a Class 4 felony. Sexual abuse is punishable by:

  • One to three years imprisonment; and
  • A fine of up to $25,000.

Illinois law provides for enhanced sentences for aggravated sexual assault or sexual abuse, and for second and subsequent offenses. In some cases, an offender may be sentenced to up to life in prison.

Additionally, a person convicted of a sexual offense must register as sex offender. This means that he or she must periodically report to law enforcement officers. There are also restrictions on holding some types of jobs, and on where the offender can live.

Sex crimes carry serious consequences in Illinois, and can affect many aspects of your life, even after completion of your sentence. If you have been charged with a sexual offense, please contact the skilled Naperville criminal defense lawyers at Law Office of Glenn M. Sowa, LLC for a free initial consultation.