Some Illinois Sex Crimes Specifically Aimed at Protecting Kids
State legislation is put into place in order to help to protect the people of Illinois. Doing so allows more people to exercise their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Furthermore, not all Illinoisans are created equal — some are more vulnerable than others. That’s why we have harsher penalties against hate crimes or crimes against the elderly.
Still, children are considered the most vulnerable of us all, so when crimes involve them, the punishment is meant to fit.
Children Are Considered Especially Vulnerable to Sex Crimes
Statistics show that one out of four human trafficking victims globally is under the age of 18. Even in their own neighborhoods, 1 out of every 9 girls will be sexually abused by an adult before they reach their 18th birthday.
Illinois has gained recognition as of late for its creation of laws designed to protect children from abuse and sex trafficking. The state received a “B” grade from Shared Hope International for our current laws and policies on sex crimes.
Let’s take a closer look at the laws that led to this grade and the current penalties offenders face upon conviction.
Child Prostitution Laws in Illinois
Three hundred thousand children are victims of child sex trafficking in the United States alone. Child prostitution charges are always a felony in Illinois, whether or not you initiate the crime.
Patronizing a Minor Can Land You Five Years in Prison
Exchanging money for sex from a child prostitute (also known as “patronizing a minor”) is a Class 3 felony, for instance. Penalties include up to five years behind bars. Committed this crime near a school, and face Class 2 felony charges. Penalties increase to seven years behind bars.
Promoting Prostitution of a Child Can Lead to Decades Behind Bars
Acting as any child’s “pimp” or “john” or soliciting clients for a child prostitute is called “promoting prostitution of a child” in Illinois. This is a Class 1 felony. You can expect more than a decade-long prison sentence if convicted. When a crime happens 1,000 feet from a school, it’s a Class X felony. Translate: a 60-year prison term.
What’s more, children do not actually have to be engaged in sexual activity for an adult to be charged with a child sex crime.
IL Laws Surrounding Sexual Exploitation of a Minor
Simply trying to entice a child to engage in sexual behavior is a crime in Illinois — and more often, this type of crime is taking place online. It is known as the sexual exploitation of a minor.
When a Misdemeanor is Elevated to a Felony
Charges begin at a Class A misdemeanor level, with penalties including up to a year behind bars. They are elevated to a Class 4 felony if any of the following factors are present:
- The offender exposes themselves to the child
- The offender entices the child to remove their clothing
- The victim is under age 13
- The offender has a previous sexual exploitation record
- The crime occurs within 500 feet of a school
Penalties for a Class 4 felony in Illinois include up to three years in prison.
Committing a Child Pornography Crime in Illinois
Children aren’t just exploited through sex slavery or prostitution. With the cloak of anonymity that the Internet seems to provide, child pornography is another target of Illinois law enforcement.
Simply possessing child pornography is a Class 3 felony. Much like drug crimes, the distribution or manufacturing of child pornography comes with more severe charges and penalties. These crimes are usually Class 1 felonies.
Illinois Child Sexual Abuse and Assault Laws
Child sexual abuse is always a felony crime in Illinois unless the offender is charged with criminal sexual conduct and is a minor themselves. (Offenders who are less than five years older than the victim may also see reduced charges.)
Considerations During the Penalty Phase
The extent of the penalties may vary depending on a few factors:
- The age of the victim
- Whether penetration was involved in sexual abuse
- Relationship between the victim and offender
- Use or threat of a firearm or deadly weapon during the crime
- Delivery of controlled substances to the victim
- Offender’s criminal history
Elements of Violence Can End in Life Imprisonment
Some of the more violent crimes, including aggravated criminal sexual assault, could result in up to 60 years in prison. If the offender has a history of sexual assault crimes on their record, they could be put behind bars for life.
Statute of Limitations for Sex Crimes Against Children In Illinois
Most crimes in Illinois have a statute of limitations. This means charges must be pressed against you within a certain period of time. It’s different for sex crimes against a child.
Unfortunately, many child sex crimes don’t surface for years — sometimes decades. Children may not be able to process the crime or may feel afraid to come forward against an abuser. So victims of child sex crimes don’t have a statute of limitations…at all. If you have been — or think you may be — charged, reach out to an experienced Illinois sex crimes lawyer for advice.
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.