When Is Sexual Assault Considered “Aggravated”?
Sexual assault is a serious crime, and those accused of this charge in Illinois face some of the heaviest penalties of any crime in the state. There are a few classifications of criminal sexual assault, and though all carry severe penalties, some charges are significantly worse than others.
Criminal sexual assault, also known as rape, occurs when one individual commits a penetrative act against another without their consent. In many cases, this applies to situations when the law considers the victim unable to give consent. For example, if the victim was intoxicated or underage, they are not, by law, able to consent to sex with an adult.
Under Illinois law, sexual assault can be charged as a Class 1 or Class X felony, depending on a number of factors surrounding the crime. Criminal sexual assault penalties can range from 4 years to life in prison.
In most situations, criminal sexual assault occurs whenever there is sexual penetration and:
- Force or the threat of force is used
- The perpetrator knows the victim is unable to understand the act or unable to give consent
- Where the victim is a family member and under the age of 18, or
- When the perpetrator is over the age of 17 and the victim is between the ages of 13 and 18 and the perpetrator has a position of trust or authority over them
The initial charges for criminal sexual assault will likely be a Class 1 felony, although if there is a past sexual assault charge on your record, your charge will likely be upgraded to a Class X felony. The same is true if you are charged with aggravated sexual assault.
When Does Sexual Assault Become Aggravated?
Aggravated sexual assault is one of the most serious classifications of rape charges, prosecuted as a Class X felony. Short of first degree murder, Class X felonies are the most serious criminal charges one can face in Illinois. When certain aggravating factors are present, criminal sexual assault charges become aggravated sexual assault charges. Under Illinois law, the following are considered an aggravating factors:
- You display, use, or threaten to use a dangerous weapon or firearm, or you lead the victim to believe you have a weapon
- You cause bodily harm to the victim
- You act in a manner that threatens or endangers the life of the victim or another person
- You commit the offense during the commission or attempted commission of another felony
- The victim is over the age of 60
- The victim is physically handicapped
- You deliver a controlled substance to the victim
- You are armed with a gun, or you discharge a gun
- You discharge a gun or other weapon, causing death or severe bodily harm to another person
- The victim is under the age of 9, or the victim is between the ages of 9 and 13 and force or threat of force is used
- The victim is profoundly or severely mentally disabled
The first conviction of aggravated sexual assault is a Class X felony, which carries a mandatory sentence of 4-30 years in prison, with the possibility of extended sentences all the way up to life in prison. For a second aggravated rape conviction, the penalty is a life sentence.
If you are facing sex crime charges in Illinois, you are up against incredibly serious criminal
penalties. But that doesn’t mean that all hope is lost. There are a number of defenses that can be effectively used by a skilled Chicago defense attorney, but you can’t delay. The sooner you have a professional crafting your defense strategy, the more likely you are to get a positive outcome.
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.