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Illinois Sexual Assault Laws

Sexual assault, or rape, is a serious crime with serious consequences. The crime is committed when an individual commits a penetrative sexual act against another without their consent or ability to give consent. This includes sexual acts against victims who are under age, mentally disabled, or otherwise incapable of giving consent, in addition to rape through the use or threat of force. When an adult has sex with a minor, usually referred to as "statutory rape," it is considered sexual assault because the minor cannot legally give consent.

Sexual assault cases frequently involve incidents that occur between two people in private. This means that there are often conflicting narratives about criminal acts that complicate prosecution. Forensic science and increased police training and the development of sex crimes units within police forces have changed this, to some extent, but sexual assault and related crimes continue to present unique problems for both prosecutors and defendants.

Violation of Illinois sexual assault laws can result in four years to life in prison upon conviction, depending on the circumstances and whether there are any prior rape convictions. The basic provisions of Illinois rape laws are listed in the following table.

Code Section 720 ILCS 5/11-1.20
Sexual Assault Defined as

A person commits criminal sexual assault if that person commits an act of sexual penetration and:

  1. uses force or threat of force;
  2. knows the victim lacks capacity to give consent;
  3. is a family member of the victim and the victim is under 18 years old;
  4. is at least 17 years old, holds a position of authority or trust over the victim, and the victim is between 13 and 18 years old.
Classifications / Sentences First conviction: Class 1 felony (4-15 years in prison); second conviction: Class X felony (30-60 years or life in prison); aggravated criminal sexual assault (use of a weapon, death threats, victim under the age of 8 or mentally retarded, etc.): Class X felony (6-30 years mandatory prison, with possible extension up to life in prison).
Defenses Consent (if force or threat of force is an element); actual innocence; insanity.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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Illinois Sexual Assault Laws: Related Resources

Facing Sexual Assault Charges? An Attorney Can Help

Sexual assault charges carry serious potential penalties, as well as a significant amount of social stigma. The assistance of a competent lawyer is essential to ensuring that you present a compelling defense. Contact an experienced Illinois criminal defense attorney to learn more about your defense options.

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