Sex crimes are among the most serious offenses that a person can commit in the state of Illinois. These crimes carry a horrid stigma which is only heightened when the alleged crime affects a minor. If you have been charged with criminal sexual assault of a child, the time to obtain legal representation is now; your life can be ruined following conviction of a charge. If you are facing such a charge, the criminal defense team at Dolci & Weiland can help.
Predatory Criminal Sexual Assault of a Child Defined
720 ILCS 5/11-1.40 states that "[a] person commits predatory criminal sexual assault of a child if that person is 17 years of age or older, and commits an act of contact, however slight, between the sex organ or anus of one person and the part of the body of another for the purpose of sexual gratification or arousal of the victim or the accused, or an act of sexual penetration, and . . . the victim is under 13 years of age . . . ."
The statute lays out a very broad net of what constitutes this crime; thus, a person can be charged--and convicted--of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child even if no penetration occurred. As long as the act was carried out in order to arouse one of the parties, a person faces a conviction regardless of how nonchalant the physical act was.
While the punishment for a general charge of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child is severe in and of itself, 720 ILCS 5/11-1.40 lists several additional aggravating factors that can further enhance the penalty you face if convicted of such a crime. You may face an increased sentence if you:
- Were armed with a firearm at the time of the crime;
- Personally discharged a firearm during the commission of the offense;
- Caused great bodily harm to the victim that was life-threatening or resulted in permanent disability; or
- Administered a controlled substance to the victim without the victim's consent.
Potential Penalties for Predatory Criminal Sexual Assault of a Child
The punishment that you can face following a charge of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child can turn your life upside down. If found guilty, you will have a Class X felony on your record, which is the most severe felony class that exists in Illinois. At a minimum, a person who is convicted of the crime without any aggravating factors faces a prison sentence of 6 to 60 years. There is no possibility of probation for such a charge.
Aggravating factors only enhance the penalties that you can face following conviction. Depending on the aggravating factor present in your case, you may face the following sentences.
- Armed with a firearm at the time of the crime: an additional 15-year prison sentence added to the term of imprisonment imposed by the court.
- Discharges a firearm during the offense: an additional 20-year prison sentence on top of the initial sentence.
- Causes great bodily harm that is permanent or life-threatening: a minimum sentence of 50 years in prison, and up to life in prison.
- Administers a controlled substance to the victim: a minimum incarceration of 50 years, and up to 60 years in prison.
- Two or more victims: life in prison, regardless of whether the crimes occurred simultaneously or at different periods in time.
- Second offense: imprisonment for life.
Sex Offender Registry
A crippling punishment that those who are convicted of criminal sexual assault of a child is mandatory registration as a registered sex offender in Illinois. This penalty can have a devastating impact on your life; your name and photo will be listed on an online database for the world to see. In addition to the public humiliation of the database, a person who is a registered sex offender is limited as to how close he or she can live in proximity to a school, cannot enter a public park, or have unsupervised access to a minor who bears no relation to the offender.
Potential Defenses to a Charge of Predatory Criminal Sexual Assault of a Child
In the United States, those who are charged with a crime are deemed innocent until proven guilty. Unfortunately, more people are wrongfully accused of committing a crime than we would like to think. In some cases, your attorney may be able to assert legal defenses that can throw roadblocks in the way of your conviction. Common defenses to such a charge include the following.
- The other party was over 13 years old: the statute makes it clear that a victim must be under the age of 13 in order for criminal sexual assault of a child to have occurred. Without this element, someone cannot be found guilty of such a charge.
- Violation of your Fourth Amendment Rights: every person in the United States maintains a constitutional right to freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures by law enforcement officers. If you were charged with criminal sexual assault of a child as a result of a search which was conducted without a warrant, for example, a Fourth Amendment defense may help your case.
- Being mistakenly accused: unfortunately, some people who face these charges were simply at the wrong place at the wrong time. You may have been in a location where criminal sexual assault was suspected or may bear a striking resemblance to a person who actually committed the crime. In any event, a criminal defense attorney may be able to establish your innocence.
Need Legal Assistance? We're Here for You
If you are an Illinois resident who is facing a charge of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, it's imperative to seek representation from a skilled criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Such a charge isn't one that should be put off and dealt with later; conviction can have a devastating impact on both your freedom and your way of life after imprisonment. To schedule an appointment to speak with a member of our legal team about your charge and formulate a game plan on how to protect your interests, fill out an online case evaluation form or contact the office nearest to you today. For our DuPage office, call (630) 261-9098, or for our Chicago location, contact (312) 238-9007.