Criminal sexual assault is a type of sex crime punishable by prison time under Illinois law. This criminal offense occurs when a perpetrator commits an act of sexual penetration against a victim under specific circumstances. In certain cases, the perpetrator may use force or threats to complete the act. In other situations, the perpetrator may be related to the victim, whether through familial ties or a position of authority. 

In just about any circumstance, a person who commits criminal sexual assault in Illinois will face a lengthy prison sentence and hefty fines. Though to understand what qualifies as criminal sexual assault under Illinois law, it will be helpful to first review the state-specific definition of sexual penetration. 

Definition of Sexual Penetration

720 ILCS 5/11-0.1 outlines the definition of sexual penetration in Illinois. Under this section, the term sexual penetration refers to:

  • Contact – No matter how slight, between one person’s sexual organ or anus and another person’s sexual organ, anus, or mouth; or
  • Intrusion – No matter how slight, between a person, animal, or object and another person’s sexual organ or anus. 

Section 11-0.1 details several examples of sexual penetration, including but not necessarily limited to fellatio, cunnilingus, and anal penetration. On a related note, sexual penetration may result in ejaculation or a similar emission of semen. Though Illinois law does not require such an outcome to prove that an act of sexual penetration occurred. 

Definition of Criminal Sexual Assault

720 ILCS 5/11-1.20(a) establishes the definition of criminal sexual assault in Illinois. From a general standpoint, criminal sexual assault occurs when a perpetrator commits an act of sexual penetration without a victim’s consent. More specifically, there are four types of criminal sexual assault under Illinois law.

First, it qualifies as criminal sexual assault if a perpetrator uses force to engage in sexual penetration against a victim. It also qualifies if a perpetrator uses the threat of force to a coerce a victim into an act of sexual penetration. 

Second, criminal sexual assault applies when a victim is unable to give proper consent to sexual penetration. This can be due to the fact that the victim does not understand the nature or context of the sexual act in question. 

Third, it qualifies as criminal sexual assault if a perpetrator engages in sexual penetration with an underage family member. If the victim is under the age of 18 years old and related to the perpetrator, it falls under the purview of the statute. 

Fourth, criminal sexual assault applies when a perpetrator holds a position of trust, supervision, or authority over a victim. Though for this type of criminal sexual assault charge, the victim must be between the ages of 13 and 17 years old. 

Penalties for Criminal Sexual Assault

720 ILCS 5/11-1.20(b) provides a breakdown of the penalties for criminal sexual assault in Illinois. In most situations, the punishment for this offense depends upon the number of previous offenses, if any. 

The first offense of criminal sexual assault constitutes a Class 1 felony in Illinois. The punishment for a class 1 felony can be anywhere from 4-15 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. It can also result in up to 48 months of probation.  

A second or subsequent offense of criminal sexual assault constitutes a Class X felony in Illinois. Upon conviction, the maximum punishment usually includes up to 30 years in prison and $25,000 in fines. Probation is not available for Class X felonies in Illinois.

That being said, Section 11-1.20 also details even more severe penalties for certain variations of criminal sexual assault. Under certain circumstances, repeat offenders can face 30 to 60 years in prison. And in the most extreme situations – where the offender previously committed aggravated or predatory criminal sexual assault – the punishment can even include a life sentence in prison. But aside from the prison sentence, such an offense can have a catastrophic impact on someone’s life. Even without prison time, a conviction will result in a felony record, and mandatory registration on the Sex Offender Registry, which will impact where an individual can live and mandate yearly registration. This registry is accessible to anyone with internet access and registration is required for life.

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