Statutory Rape: Illinois Age of Consent

 Posted on May 23, 2017 in Sex Crimes

Illinois federal crimes attorney, Illinois criminal attorney, Illinois defense lawyer,Most of us had Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet on our reading list in high school. The storyline is about two children that fall in love. Their families are bitter enemies, creating a forbidden love scenario, and the two turn to drastic measures to run away together. Unfortunately, due to a breakdown in communication, both reach their tragic demise. How does this have anything to do with statutory rape laws? "Romeo and Juliet" laws are named after these two iconic teens and determine if sexual intercourse between two consenting individuals are legal or illegal.

Explanation of Statutory Rape

Statutory rape varies from forcible rape and other forms of coerced intercourse in that should both parties have been over the age of consent, the behavior would have been legal. Both individuals are generally in a romantic relationship and are fully consenting to each other. However, federal law prohibits any sexual act with anyone between the ages of 12 and 16 if the age gap is four years or more, regardless of consent. Each state determines its own recourse for these situations. Illinois regulations surrounding statutory rape include:

  • The age of consent is 17,
  • Consensual sex with someone age 16 or younger is considered statutory rape,
  • If both are under the age of consent, it is still statutory rape, and
  • No “force” requirement.

Close-In-Age Exemption

A close-in-age exemption, also known as "Romeo and Juliet" laws, create lighter punishments or total exemptions to situations in which both consenting individuals are under the age of consent, or they are both extremely close in age. These laws, however, are not available in all states. In Illinois, there is no law exempting this behavior. If both children are underaged, they may each face statutory rape charges. Special consideration is given to circumstances in which:

  • Both children are over the age of nine but still not 17, or
  • One child is between 13 and 17, and their partner is no more than five years older.

Protect the Children

Illinois continuously makes efforts to decriminalize situations involving two consenting children having sex with each other, or even those close in age. To date, federal and Illinois state laws differ on this stance. A conviction has the possibility of inflicting long-term penalties which may have impacts not only on the children now but their future family. If you would like to discuss the options of your case with a proven and experienced Chicago, IL child sex crime defense attorney, contact the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel LLC, Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney today. We are available to offer you a free and confidential initial consultation when you call 312-629-0669 today.


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