Few crimes are as grievous and carry as much of a negative stigma as sex crimes. Many different acts can lead to sex crime charges, some of which are far more severe than others. Unfortunately, however, most convictions still lead to the same result: you become a registered sex offender. This carries a humiliating stigma, and severely compromises offenders’ freedom, even if they were originally found guilty of an arguably lesser offense.
Take criminal sexual abuse. This law covers a broad spectrum of sexual acts. Additionally, there are many aggravating factors, which can lead to the more serious felony charge of aggravated criminal sexual abuse.
For example, a 54-year-old Cahokia man was recently arrested for sexually abusing a 79-year-old woman who is in a wheelchair. Randy A. Pritchard allegedly touched the breast of the woman and attempted to force her legs apart for sexual gratification. He also allegedly prevented the victim from moving away from him. Pritchard now faces two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, one count of aggravated battery, and one count of unlawful restraint.
Clearly the allegations against Pritchard are quite serious, and if true, his conduct is reprehensible. However, there are many acts that can lead to criminal sexual abuse charges, and they all look the same on an offender’s criminal record – regardless of which acts were committed.
To help you understand aggravated criminal sexual abuse, first let’s take a look at what acts constitute criminal sexual abuse in Illinois.
How Illinois Defines Criminal Sexual Abuse
Three primary acts are defined as criminal sexual abuse in Illinois, including forceful sexual conduct of any nature, sexual contact when the victim is unable to give consent, and sexual contact with and between minors.
Forceful Sexual Conduct
Initiating sexual contact of any kind using force or the threat of force is considered criminal sexual abuse. This includes sexual touching of any nature. Forceful commission of more severe acts of sexual conduct, such as penetrative sex or oral sex, generally fall under rape charges.
Sexual Conduct Without Consent
Knowingly engaging in sexual conduct with a person who is unable to understand the nature of the act or is otherwise unable to give consent is considered criminal sexual abuse. This generally includes persons who are extremely intoxicated at the time of the offense, or who are intellectually disabled.
Sexual Conduct Between Minors
Perhaps the most controversial form of criminal sexual abuse concerns sexual conduct between minors.
A person commits criminal sexual abuse if:
- The defendant is under 17 years old and commits an act of sexual penetration or sexual conduct with a victim between nine and 16 years old.
- The defendant commits an act of sexual penetration or sexual conduct with a victim between 13 and 16 years old, and is less than five years older than the victim.
Importantly, this includes consensual relationships. Because many teens are sexually active at an early age, many minors could potentially be charged with this offense. Moreover, if the couple engages in sexting, which is relatively common, one or both parties could even face child pornography charges.
How do aggravating factors work?
Aggravating Factors in Criminal Sexual Abuse
Many aggravating factors can lead to the charge of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, which carries enhanced sentencing. As with non-aggravated criminal sexual abuse, all of these factors get lumped into the same charge.
Aggravating factors for criminal sexual abuse include:
- Displaying, using, or threatening to use a dangerous weapon, or an object that is made to look like a deadly weapon.
- Bodily harm to the victim.
- If the victim is age 60 or older, or is physically handicapped.
- Threatening the life of the victim or any other person.
- Committing the act during the course of committing or attempting to commit any other felony.
- Giving the victim any controlled substance without the victim’s consent, by deception, or by threat.
- The victim is profoundly intellectually disabled.
- Sexual conduct with a family member under the age of 18.
- A defendant 17 years or older commits an act of sexual conduct with a victim under 13, or uses force to commit sexual conduct with a victim between 13-17 years old.
- A defendant under 17 engages in sexual conduct with a victim under nine years old, or uses force or threat of force to commit sexual conduct with a victim between 9-17 years old.
- A defendant commits an act of sexual penetration or sexual conduct with a victim 13-17 years of age and is at least five years older than the victim.
Under this definition, it’s possible that two college students, aged 22 and 17, could both get drunk and have sex, and that that could lead to a charge of aggravated criminal sexual abuse for one of them.
The point is that someone looking at your criminal record won’t know exactly what act the charge or conviction was for, merely the name of the offense. Even before that point, you’ll face more severe penalties for aggravated criminal sexual abuse. It is considered a Class 2 felony, and carries a sentence of 3-7 years in prison.
A person convicted of aggravated criminal sexual abuse (or non-aggravated, for that matter) must also register as a sex offender.
If You Are Facing Aggravated Criminal Sexual Abuse Charges
A sex crime conviction is life-changing, and has long-lasting consequences even after the criminal sentence has been carried out. For serious charges such as these, you need a skilled Chicago criminal defense attorney who will fight tirelessly to ensure the most favorable outcome for your case.
Be proactive as early in the process as possible to make sure that your rights are protected – reach out now.
About the Author:
Andrew M. Weisberg is a former felony prosecutor who now serves as a defense attorney in the greater Chicago area. He has extensive experience in handling all types of criminal cases, from sex offenses and domestic violence to retail theft-related crimes, murder, and drug crimes.