Sex crimes are not at all uncommon in the state of Illinois; in fact, according to UNICEF U.S.A., as of 2017 Illinois has earned a spot in the top ten states in terms of the number of human trafficking cases. Due to the prevalence of sex crimes in the states, Illinois prosecutors have no tolerance for offenders, regardless of the type of sex crime that is alleged. If you have been charged with solicitation of a sexual act, the attorneys at Dolci & Weiland believe that it is critically important that you understand the potential consequences of the charge that you face and that you know your rights with respect to such a charge.
An Overview of Illinois' Solicitation Statute
Subsection A of Illinois' solicitation statute criminalizes solicitation of a sexual act. The law states:
"Any person who offers a person not his or her spouse any money, property, token, object, or article or anything of value for that person or any other person not his or her spouse to perform any act of sexual penetration . . . or any touching or fondling of the sex organs of one person by another person for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification, commits solicitation of a sexual act."
One of the key elements to a charge of solicitation, then, is that the individual that a person solicits a sexual act from must not be that person's spouse.
Aside from the necessity of the person solicited being someone other than the individual's spouse, the key element of a solicitation charge is payment--a person must offer money, an object, or something of value in exchange for a sexual act. Most often, individuals who find themselves facing a solicitation charge do so following an attempt to pay a prostitute to perform sexual acts.
Potential Penalties Following a Solicitation Conviction
Under 720 ILCS 5/11-14.1, a person who is caught soliciting a sexual act faces a Class A misdemeanor charge. If convicted, a person can face:
- up to one year in a local jail;
- a fine of up to $2,500; and
- a period of probation.
Circumstances Leading to Enhanced Penalties
The punishment that you may face increases substantially if:
- the person that was solicited is under the age of 18
- the solicited individual has a severe intellectual disability, or
- the act of solicitation takes place within a close proximity to a school.
In these cases, a person no longer faces a misdemeanor charge; the charge is heightened to a Class 4 felony. A person who is convicted of solicitation in one of these circumstances can face up to three years in prison.
Sex Offender Registry
For those who face charges of solicitation involving a minor under the age of 18, the penalties for conviction don't stop at a financial or criminal level--conviction of such a charge will also require you to register as a sex offender pursuant to Illinois' Sex Offender Registration Act. This penalty can be devastating to individuals on a social level, as being listed on the registry can impact a person's daily life. Those who are listed as registered sex offenders are restricted with regard to how close they can live to a school and when they can be around children and are prohibited from entering areas such as public parks or schools.
Potential Defenses to a Solicitation Charge
Retaining a criminal defense attorney is critical following an arrest and charge of solicitation. A seasoned attorney may be able to assert a defense to your charge which explains the situation. A successful defense can reduce the penalties that you face if you were to be convicted of solicitation; in some cases, a defense may be so damaging to a prosecutor's case that your charges could be dropped altogether.
Something of Value Never Offered
As stated above, in order for a person to be charged with solicitation, he or she must have offered something of value--such as money or a valuable object--to a person in exchange for a sexual act. If a person never offered anything of value in exchange for a sexual act, then no solicitation has occurred.
Occasionally, a person's sentence can be reduced even if a prosecutor has proven that the person committed the alleged crime. For this to happen, a person accused of a crime must raise what is known in the legal world as an "affirmative defense," which acts to mitigate the ramifications that the individual faces for his or her charge. Subsection B-5 of Illinois' solicitation statute lays out affirmative defenses for two specific circumstances in a solicitation charge.
The statute first sets out if a person is charged with solicitation of a person under the age of 18, the person can assert an affirmative defense "that the accused reasonably believed the person was of the age of 18 years or over . . . at the time of the act giving rise to the charge."
The statute further states that the same affirmative defense is available for those who were charged with solicitation of a sexual act with a person a "severe or profound intellectual disability;" if the person reasonably believed that the individual solicited was competent and did not suffer from an intellectual disability, then the defense can be asserted.
Facing a Solicitation Charge? Let Us Help You Today
If you have been arrested and charged with solicitation of a sexual act in the state of Illinois, it is critical to seek legal representation as soon as possible in order to protect your interests. A criminal defense attorney who is skilled in defending against a solicitation charge can be the main factor which determines whether your criminal record will be tarnished with a sex crime conviction.
Don't try to fight a solicitation charge on your own; the stakes are too high to trust your case to anyone but a professional. To speak to a member of Dolci & Weiland's team of criminal defense attorneys, fill out an online contact form or call the office closest to you today; to contact our downtown Chicago office, call (312) 238-9007, or for our DuPage location, call (630) 261-9098.