In Illinois, people who engage in consensual sexual activity with children under the age of 18 can be convicted of statutory rape (also called sexual abuse or sexual assault).
People who engage in engage in sexual contact with other people of any age without their consent may face charges for sex crimes or assault. Sexual activity with children is also made criminal under child enticement laws.
Getting Legal Guidance
The information in this article provides an overview of the law relating to statutory rape. If you are trying to determine the legality of any kind of conduct, make sure to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney. The law is complex and changes regularly.
Aggravated criminal sexual abuse. Under Illinois’s laws, a defendant commits the crime of aggravated criminal sexual abuse by engaging in sexual conduct (such as sexual touching or fondling) with:
Aggravated criminal sexual abuse also includes sexual penetration (vaginal, oral, or anal sex) between a child who is at least 13 years old, but younger than 17 years old, and a defendant who is more than five years older than the victim.
Aggravated criminal sexual abuse is a Class 2 felony. Potential penalties include three to seven years in prison, a fine of $25 up to $25,000, or both.
(720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/11-0.1, 5/11-1.60, 5/5-4.5-35, 5/5-4.5-50 (2018).)
Criminal sexual abuse. In Illinois, criminal sexual abuse includes sexual conduct or sexual penetration between:
Criminal sexual abuse is a Class A misdemeanor, and is punishable by up to one year in prison, up to two years’ probation, and a fine of $25 up to $2,500.
(720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/11-0.1, 5/11-1.50, 5/5-4.5-55 (2018).)
Criminal sexual assault. In Illinois, a person commits criminal sexual assault by sexually penetrating:
Criminal sexual assault is a Class 1 felony, punishable by four to 15 years in prison, a fine of $25 up to $25,000, or both. (720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/11-0.1, 5/11-1.20, 5/5-4.5-30, 5/5-4.5-50 (2018).)
Predatory criminal sexual assault. In Illinois, predatory criminal sexual assault involves sexual contact or penetration between a person who is 17 years old or older and a child under the age of 13. The offense is a Class X felony, and is punishable by six to 60 years’ imprisonment, a fine of $25 up to $25,000, or both. (720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/11-1.40, 5/5-4.5-50 (2018).)
Asking a child to engage in sexual activity or arranging to meet a child without the permission of the child’s parents can result in child enticement charges.
There are some important defenses to consider in statutory rape cases.
In many states, it is never a defense to a charge of statutory rape that the defendant believed the victim to be of age. However, Illinois law provides a limited defense in some circumstances.
It is a defense to a charge of criminal sexual abuse that the defendant believed a child between the ages of 13 and 16 to be 17 years old or older. It is also a defense to a charge of criminal sexual abuse that a defendant under the age of 17 believed a child to be over the age 17. In both situations, the defendant must have a good reason to believe the child is over the age of 17. (720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/11-1.70 (2018).)
If, for example, the defendant knew that the child was in middle school, the defendant would probably not be able to show that he or she reasonably believed the child to be over 17.
Named after the lovers in Shakespeare’s play, “Romeo and Juliet” exceptions protect youngsters who engage in sexual contact with people close to their own age from serious criminal charges.
In Illinois, there is a limited Romeo and Juliet exemption for criminal sexual abuse. The conduct is still illegal, but someone protected by this exception will face the possibility of smaller fines and reduced jail time than someone who is charged with felony sexual assault or abuse. (720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/11-1.50 (2018).)
In many states, a person cannot be convicted of statutory rape of their spouse, but marriage provides no defense in Illinois. For more information on spousal rape and the historic marital rape exemption, see our article on marital rape laws.
Under Illinois law, people who are convicted of sexual assault or sexual abuse are required to register as sex offenders. (730 Ill. Comp. Stat. 150/2, 150/3 (2018).)
If you are charged with sexual assault or sexual abuse as a result of consensual sexual activity with someone underage, you should contact an Illinois criminal defense attorney. The law can change at any time, and an attorney can explain the legal process to you and help you obtain the best possible outcome in your case.
If you are a victim of sexual assault or rape, contact Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) for online help and local resources.
Updated September 7, 2018