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Statutory Rape and the Perils of Dating Apps

Posted on in Criminal Law

statutory rape and dating apps, Crystal Lake Criminal Defense AttorneyAn Indiana teenager has recently learned that people with online dating profiles have a habit of stretching the truth, and that lesson may come with 25 years on a sex offender registry. The 19-year-old met a girl on the “Hot or Not” dating app, who said that she was 17. After driving across state lines and having sex, the girl confessed that she was actually 14, and the teen ended up being convicted of criminal sexual conduct. While he is currently attempting to get his sentence reduced, the story highlights the dangers surrounded with teenage sex and the age of consent.

The Crime of Statutory Rape

Technically, there is no single crime in Illinois called “statutory rape.” Instead, there are a few types of sexual assault crimes that can be triggered by sex between people with a significant age gap under the age of consent. The two main crimes are criminal sexual abuse and aggravated criminal sexual abuse. These two crimes can be committed in a variety of ways, and both contain provisions that would be considered statutory rape laws.

Criminal sexual abuse occurs in two instances. First, it occurs if a person under the age of 17 engages in sexual conduct with someone else between the ages of nine and 17. Alternatively, someone also commits criminal sexual abuse if he or she engages in sexual conduct with a victim between the ages of 13 and 16 and he or she is less than five years older than the victim.

Aggravated criminal sexual abuse is a more serious crime that comes with stricter penalties. It occurs either when a person over 17 engages in sexual conduct with someone under 13 or when the victim is between 13 and 16 and the defendant is more than five years older than the victim.

Mistake of Age

People, such as the Indiana teen, often wonder what happens if they have what they thought was consensual sex, only to discover that their partner was underage. In Illinois, reasonable mistakes as to the age of the victim may be a defense in certain circumstances. The reasonable mistake defense is available if the person is being charged with criminal sexual abuse. Whether it is available for aggravated criminal sexual abuse depends on which situation triggered it. It is not a defense if the victim was under 13, but it is a defense if the victim was between 13 and 16 and it was reasonable to believe that the victim was over 17.

A statutory rape conviction, like all sex crimes, has the potential to ruin a person's life for years to come. If you are being charged with statutory rape and you want to learn more about your rights, contact a dedicated Crystal Lake criminal defense attorney today.



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