Any kind of sexual misconduct conviction on your record can be traumatic and life changing, but there are different terms that create a vast difference in sentencing – and many people view them differently, as well.
Criminal Sexual Abuse vs. Criminal Sexual Assault
Criminal sexual abuse and criminal sexual assault, according to Illinois law, are two very different charges. For one, criminal sexual abuse is can be a misdemeanor in some cases; criminal sexual assault is always a felony.
Criminal Sexual Abuse in Illinois
Criminal sexual abuse can be a Class A misdemeanor or a felony. It’s a misdemeanor when the person who commits sexual misconduct is under the age of 17; it’s a felony when the accused commits sexual conduct either under force or the threat of force, or when the victim couldn’t give knowing consent to the act.
If the accused could reasonably believe that the victim was at least 17 years old, that can often be used as a defense against criminal sexual abuse charges.
Criminal Sexual Assault in Illinois
Criminal sexual assault is different from criminal sexual abuse. It generally refers to rape, and under the law, it’s sexual penetration combined with:
- Force or the threat of force
- A victim who was unable to understand what was going on
- A victim who was unable to give knowing consent
- A victim who was under 18 years old when the accused is a family member
- A victim who was at least 13 but under 18, and the accused is 17 or older and held a position of authority, trust or supervision toward the victim
The law further establishes aggravated criminal sexual assault and predatory criminal sexual assault, both of which the courts consider Class X felonies.
Aggravated Criminal Sexual Assault
Aggravated criminal sexual assault meets all the criteria of criminal sexual assault and includes:
- The use of a dangerous weapon
- Infliction of bodily harm
- Making threats against the victim’s life or another person’s life
- Commission of another felony at the same time
- A victim who is over 60 or is physically handicapped
- The accused drugging the victim through controlled substances
- The accused discharging a firearm during the sexual assault, with or without causing harm or death to someone else
The accused can also be found guilty of criminal sexual assault if the victim is 8 years old or younger, provided he or she is over the age of 16, or when the victim is between the ages of 9 and 12 and force or the threat of force is used. Finally, if the victim is mentally challenged, the courts may find the accused guilty of aggravated criminal sexual assault.
Predatory Criminal Sexual Assault
Predatory criminal sexual assault involves a defendant older than 17 and the victim is 12 or younger. Other factors may also come into play, such as the defendant carrying or discharging a firearm, causing great bodily harm, and delivering controlled substances to the victim.
If you’ve been accused of criminal sexual assault or criminal sexual abuse, you’ll probably want to work with a Chicago sex crime lawyer who’s familiar with Illinois law. It’s important that you talk to an attorney as soon as possible so he can protect your rights and ensure that you are treated fairly within the Illinois justice system.