Facing Sex Crimes Charges in Chicago after Getting “Consent”?
Sexual assault is a crime accusation no one wants. After all, state governments around the country take sex crimes very seriously, including Illinois. One accusation could impact your life forever.
This is why consent plays such a huge role in sexual relations between adults. Still, sometimes mistakes of consent happen. You could find yourself accused of sexual assault even when you believed consent was given.
Here’s what you need to know about sexual consent – what it legally means in Illinois, plus the charges faced if you fail to get consent from another person.
The Role of Consent
Every state has its own definition of consent. In Illinois, “consent” means permission given freely for sexual activity.
When you have sexual relations with someone, they should feel free to say “yes” or “no” at any time during the encounter. No one should take submission, lack of physical/verbal resistance, silence, or passivity as consent.
A few factors play into legal consent if it’s in question. In relation to sexual acts, you should make sure that:
- Consent is freely given – the person offered consent of their own free will. They were not threatened, coerced, or induced to consent through fraud.
- Consent was affirmative – they expressed through words and overt actions that they agreed to the act.
- The other person has the capacity to consent – they were legally able to do so.
Capacity to consent is a sticking point. The law considers some people without the capacity to consent, even if they give it affirmatively.
Factors that play into a person’s capacity to consent include:
- Their age – in Illinois, anyone under age 17 is not considered legally able to give consent to participate in a sexual act with an adult.
- Mental disability – if someone is developmentally disabled or suffers from another form of mental incapacitation, they are often viewed as legally unable to consent.
- Physical disability – conditions that render a person physically helpless may also call into question their ability to consent.
- Intoxication – an intoxicated person may not be able to legally give consent, either. Another hinge point: was their intoxication voluntary?
- Consciousness – someone unconscious because they’re asleep, sedated, or suffering physical trauma, i.e. a concussion, cannot freely give consent.
- Adults who are vulnerable – the vulnerable, like an ill or elderly person, may not be legally able to give their consent.
- Power-imbalanced relationships – a person in a position of authority, like a correctional officer or a boss, cannot legally obtain affirmative consent from someone under them.
Sexual Assault Penalties in Illinois
First-time offenders can be charged with a Class 1 felony, punishable by as many as 15 years in prison. After the first offense, the charge may jump to a Class X felony, which can land you up to 60 years behind bars.
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. His work has been recognized by Avvo, Expertise, National Trial Lawyers, and others, and he has been featured on countless news outlets for his experience and knowledge in criminal law.