With a smartphone in the pocket of just about everyone, and in this era of modern technology, it is no wonder there has been a substantial increase in cases involving the sexual exploitation of a child. These charges are taken incredibly seriously in Illinois. Penalties imposed after conviction may include costly fines and lengthy jail and prison sentences. Not to mention how difficult it will be to integrate into post-conviction life with a crime with such a damaging stigma.
If you have been charged and arrested with sexually exploiting a child in Illinois, contact a criminal defense attorney immediately. The legal team at Dolci & Weiland have the expertise and experience to provide with viable options and defend your charges accordingly. We believe that the key to a favorable outcome is to be accessible to you when you need us, answer any questions you have about your case and provide you with a solid defense.
What Constitutes the Sexual Exploitation of a Child in Illinois?
In Illinois, it is against the law to sexually exploit a child. There are two ways one can constitute this sexual offense. According to statute ILCS 5/11-9.1, a person has violated this law if he or she has done one or any of the following acts in the present or virtual presence:
- Engaged in a sexual act or exposed his or her sex organs, anus or breast for purposes of sexual arousal or gratification of such person or the child or one whom he or she believes is a child; or
- Knowingly enticed, coerced, or persuaded a child to remove the child's clothing for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification of the person or the child, or both.
It's important to note that when Illinois law references the term “child,” it is referring to a person who is under the age of 17. The exploitation of a child is also a statutory charge, which means that even if the victim is willing to engage, as long as they are under the age of 17, they aren't able to consent to sexual acts.
Defining “Virtual Presence”
You can be convicted of the sexual exploitation of a child in Illinois if you do any of the above acts virtually. A virtual presence is an environment created by software (usually via the internet) that allows users to appear in front of each other on a computer monitor, screen, or handheld portable electronic device. Features like Facetime, Skype, Snapchat or any other platform that allows users to operate through live or recorded video to see each other creates a virtual presence.
Sexual Exploitation of a Child Penalties in Illinois
The sexual exploitation of a child can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. The severity of the sentence depends on the nature of the crime.
The exploitation of a child is charged as a Class A misdemeanor if it is a person's first offense. This is the most serious misdemeanor crime. This is punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
A second or subsequent conviction of this criminal offense is a Class 4 felony, which carries penalties of 1 to 3 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.
This crime will also be charged as a Class 4 felony if they've been previously convicted of a sex offense, if the victim was under the age of 13 years of age at the time of the commission of the offense, or if the crime took place within 500 feet of an elementary or secondary school grounds.
Registration as a Sex Offender
Although the legal ramifications for the exploitation of a child, like jail time, prison, and costly fines are harsh, there are other repercussions that can are more damaging. The most serious and lasting punishment one can face if convicted is having to register on the Illinois Sex Offender Registry.
This registry is an online database that will provide a photo of convicted sex offenders, along with other personal identifying information like their birth date, address, and age. Being on this registry can affect every single aspect of your life. You may be forbidden from occupying locations where children are often present, like parks and schools.
The people in a registrants neighborhood will be notified every time they move, and employers, and renters can deny registrants access to employment and housing due to their placement on the registry.
Potential Defenses for Sexual Exploitation of a Child
An Illinois criminal defense attorney has the skill and knowledge to assert potential defenses to reduce the severity of your sentence. In some cases, a legal defense may be so convincing that it results in your charges to be dropped altogether. There is one affirmative defense for the sexual exploitation of a child.
You took steps to find out the victim's real age before commissioning the crime. This defense may be asserted if a defendant was proactive in attempting to find out the individual's age, or made a “bona fide inquiry,” before committing the crime.
Charged With This Crime in Illinois? Dolci & Weiland Can Help
Now that you know what you're up against, you can make wise decisions from here on out. The best thing you can make when charged with the sexual exploitation of a child is to secure the representation of a criminal defense attorney immediately. You should never have to defend yourself in any case, let alone one as serious as this one. The good news is that you won't have to with the legal team at Dolci & Weiland on your side.
In these cases especially, it is best to obtain an attorney upon immediate notice of your charges. To speak with a member of our team, fill out an online case evaluation form or give us a ring at the office closest to you today. The number for our downtown Chicago location is 312-238-9007, for our DuPage office, call 630-261-9098.