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Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney
Former Cook County Felony Prosecutor

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Sex Between IL Minors: Consensual Conduct or Criminal Sexual Abuse?

Regardless of whether they’re late bloomers, the teenage years are hit hard at some point or another by hormones. Many teenagers first explore these hormones with each other. While there are a lot of different opinions regarding the subject, it’s nevertheless true.

While personal opinions of minors engaging in sexual activities differ, there are still specific laws that everyone must follow. In Illinois, two minors having sex with each other may, in fact, be considered statutory rape, even when both consent.

It depends on the circumstances, however, and understanding how the law works can save significant stress if you or a loved one is concerned.

What Makes Consensual Sex Between Minors a Crime in Illinois?

In many states, there are provisions commonly called “Romeo and Juliet” laws. These laws allow for two individuals who are close to each other in age to legally consent to sexual activity with each other, even if one of the participants is under the legal age of consent.

These laws are in place to allow for two minors, perhaps a 16-year-old and a 17-year-old, to consent to sex with each other.

Illinois does not have any such law.

Illinois Has No “Romeo and Juliet” Provision

In this state, the age of consent for sexual activity is 17. If one person has authority over the other, the age of consent becomes 18. This means that no matter what, it is illegal for people 16 and younger to have sex with anyone else.

It is considered statutory rape because at age 16 and younger Illinois considers people legally unable to consent.

Unintended Consequences of Illinois’ Age of Consent

There are unintended consequences from that law. For example, if two minors, both age 16 and 364 days old, have consensual sex, they can both be charged with statutory rape. After all, they both had sex with another person who was under the age of consent.

This leads to some unfortunate consequences. Couples in loving relationships, high school sweethearts, are at risk for felony charges — especially when unapproving parents are involved.

High school students might find themselves facing a variety of sex crime charges, including criminal sexual assault.

What Are the Penalties in Illinois for Criminal Sex Between Minors?

The punishment for sex between minors varies significantly depending on their respective ages. While Illinois doesn’t have Romeo and Juliet laws, it does still consider age when assigning penalties.

Criminal Sexual Abuse

This charge begins as a Class A misdemeanor. If someone has sex with a minor between the ages of 13 and 16 and is less than five years older than the minor, then it’s a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison. This charge can also be made against minors who have sex with anyone under 17 and older than 9.

Grooming

Another charge that might be faced by a minor is grooming. Many minors use the internet to communicate with others, including their partners. If a minor contacts another minor about potentially having sex, it still falls under the umbrella of grooming, which is a Statutory Class 4 felony punishable by up to three years in prison.

Indecent Solicitation of a Child

This charge is similar to that of grooming. The primary difference is that indecent solicitation happens offline. Depending on the circumstances, indecent solicitation can be anywhere from a Class 4 to a Class 1 felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

Chicago Sex Crimes Against Children

Minors need to be aware that their actions may have consequences. However, some consequences may be overkill if two minors consent to sex with each other. If you or a loved one is facing charges of criminal sexual abuse as a minor, don’t hesitate to reach out to an expert attorney to help you fight your case.

 

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.

 

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