R. Kelly has been in the headlines again for all the wrong reasons. The documentary entitled Surviving R. Kelly has made major waves across the nation. Now, R. Kelly finds himself on trial once again for crimes that he claims he did not commit. What is his strategy? Putting the victims on trial. Criminal defense attorneys believe that no matter how much a defendant’s crimes upset our sense of social justice and basic decency, they are entitled to a defense under the law. But Illinois makes it very difficult for defendants like R. Kelly to attack their accusers in court.
Illinois Rape Shield Law
Illinois’ rape shield law (725 ILCS 5/115-7) covers specific types of sex crimes. These include:
- Predatory criminal sexual assault of a child;
- Indecent liberties with a child;
- Aggravated criminal sexual assault;
- Criminal sexual assault;
- Aggravated criminal sexual abuse;
- Criminal sexual abuse; and
- Criminal transmission of HIV.
It also includes crimes in which there is battery and aggravated battery and sexual penetration or conduct. The rape shield law prevents defense attorneys from putting the victim on trial by attempting to impugn their reputation, accusing them of promiscuity, or otherwise bringing their sexual history into the courtroom. There are, however, exceptions to this. If the court determines that the prior sexual conduct is directly relevant to the defense, they may have the option of introducing it. The prosecution would likely file a motion to exclude the evidence based on the rape shield law and the defense would have to show why its probative value outweighed its potential to prejudice the jury against the complainant.
R. Kelly’s Defense
R. Kelly issued a blanket statement to the press indicating that, if he did have sex with underage girls, the sex was consensual and he believed that they were of age at the time of the alleged sexual assault. This may open the defense up to interrogate the alleged victims on the basis of what they said to R. Kelly at the time that the alleged sexual intercourse occurred.
Mistake of Age Defense to Statutory Rape
In some states, you cannot raise a defense that you were unaware that an alleged victim was under the age of consent when sexual intercourse happened. In Illinois you can, but there is a limit to how well the court will tolerate such a defense. Basically, if a person could reasonably determine that the alleged victim was between the ages of 13-16 (with 17 being the age of consent), then a mistake of age defense probably will not work. If a “reasonable” person would believe that the alleged victim was over 17, then a mistake of age defense has a chance at working.
Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with a sex crime in Chicago, give David Freidberg Attorney at Law a call at (312) 560-7100. We will ensure that you get the best defense available under the law and force the prosecution to prove every element of their case. Talk to us today for a free consultation.
(image courtesy of Hajran Pambudi)