Articles Tagged with Chicago sex crimes attorney

dmitry-ratushny-64773-copy-300x199Unfortunately, Chicago has acquired a reputation for child trafficking and is one of the crisis points recognized in the national strategy. Some of the people involved are supposed to be intimate partners who end up turning on the victims and forcing them to engage in indecent employment for little or no compensation. The practice is sometimes fueled by an illicit drug and sex work industry. Grooming is a very important step in getting someone to give up his or her rights, and that is where children are particularly vulnerable. They lack a sense of judgement and the perpetrators tend to look for those who are on the margins of society. Runaway kids are especially susceptible to this type of crime and the social service agencies in Chicago have attempted to do some preventative work.

In previous times, the law was insensitive to the fact that the victims may be engaging in illegal activity through no fault or volition of their own. That is why it was important to focus instead on the pimps who stand on the wayside in order to capture the illegally-acquired largesse from the trade. There are instances in which the victim is offered support whilst the perpetrator faces the full weight of a criminal prosecution. The reality is that many victims are so traumatized and frightened that they end up not raising a complaint in situations in which their cooperation is of the utmost importance.

A Comprehensive Strategy

ben-white-194220-copy-300x200At the heart of the laws on statutory rape in Chicago is the definition of the age of consent. At the moment, the age of consent in this state is 17 years of age. At the federal level, the age of consent is defined as that minimum age at which a person is considered to be legally old enough to agree to participate in a sexual activity. That age is 16 at the federal level, so defending attorneys already need to be wary of conflicts in interpretation. The bottom line is that the state law takes precedence on this, so if you are in Chicago, 17 is the minimum acceptable age for consent to take place. It is important to note that even when explicit consent is provided by the victim, the fact that he or she does not make the minimum age means that he or she is not able to give legal consent.

A statutory rape charge is brought about based on the age of the victim (and, to an extent, that of the defendant) according to 720 ILCS 5/12-15. It is not really about whether the victims said yes, no, or maybe. It is about their age and whether they were allowed to make those judgements. There are other important provisions in the law that relate to the relationship between the defendant and the victim. If you are in a position of authority or trust (such as a family doctor, priest, boss, etc.), the age of consent in Chicago is raised to 18 years of age. The challenge for the defending attorney is to determine whether the defendant was really in a position of power, authority, or trust. This can be a significant aspect of the defense strategy.

Consequences of a Charge and Conviction

A substitute teacher with the Chicago Public Schools was recently arrested and charged with indecent solicitation of a child and intent to commit predatory aggravated sexual assault. The arrest was made after police and the school discovered suggestive texts allegedly sent from the defendant to the former student, a 14-year-old.

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Chicago Indecent Solicitation of a Child

Indecent solicitation of a child is committed when an individual age 17 or older knowingly solicits a child to engage in sexual penetration or sexual conduct, with the intent to commit the act, or knowingly discusses sexual conduct or penetration with the intent that the act be committed.

The police in this case have texts allegedly sent by the defendant to the victim requesting a date and asking her to have sex with him. Assuming that police statements regarding the nature of the texts is correct, a defense against this charge would require proving that either the defendant did not send the texts, or that he did not know he was sending them to a minor.

The news is full of stories about teens send elicit text messages to each other, often as a way to harass or bully other students and even adults. Teens also have a history of playing pranks on teachers or trying to get them in trouble for retaliation against a poor grade or some other perceived slight.

Children today grew up with technology and are avid users of all forms of social media, including texting. Thus many of them are adept at hacking into other’s phones, intercepting IP addresses, or even making it look like a text came from a person it did not.

In any case where technology, particularly computers or smartphones, played an essential part in the alleged crime, it is vital to have a forensic expert examine the phone that allegedly sent the texts, the phone that received the texts, and all data associated with the messages to determine if the messages were actually sent by the owner of the phone. This can be traced via IP addresses, date, time and location the messages were sent, even whether the phone was re-routed through a different address. Evidence obtained in a forensic search could show that the messages were sent at a time when the phone was not in the defendant’s possession, from a location he never frequented, or from a different address altogether.

If it can be proven that the defendant did in fact send the texts, then it would be necessary to prove that he knew he was sending them to a minor. Presumably, since he had taught in the girl’s school, he was aware that she was underage. But it is possible that he believed he was sending them to a different person – perhaps he transposed a number, or the student shares a name with an adult in his phone contact list and he didn’t pay close enough attention to the recipient when he inputted the number (it is not uncommon for students and teachers to interact via social media or e-mail, so the idea of him having a student’s cell phone number is not that far off). The student may have mistakenly believed he was soliciting her, or may have realized his error but thought it was funny to play along. Regardless, if it cannot be proven that the defendant knew he was interacting with a minor, then he must be acquitted or the charges dropped.

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It’s been a bad couple of weeks for America’s Dad, Bill Cosby. In the past month, at least 20 different women have come forward to say that Mr. Cosby had sexually molested, drugged and/or sexually assaulted them in incidents dating back as far as the 1970s. Just this week the Los Angeles Police Department met with one accuser, who claims Cosby sexually assaulted her when she was just 15 years old.

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Can Charges be filed in Decades Old Chicago Rape Case?

The alleged sexual assaults in the Cosby case happened decades ago and, if true, the majority went unreported. If a Chicago resident were to claim she was sexually assaulted 15 years ago, is it possible for criminal charges to be filed against the accused?

Illinois law imposes statutes of limitations on all crimes except murder. Statutes of limitations are time limits imposed on the prosecution, requiring him to file charges against the accused within a stated time period. If charges are not filed within the specified time period, they can never be filed.

Statutes of limitations vary among crimes (they are also different for claims filed in civil court, so when looking up statutes of limitations make sure you are reading the criminal code). For the crime of sexual assault, the prosecution must file charges within 10 years of the commission of the offense, provided the victim reported it to the police within three years of its occurrence.

For example, imagine a woman who was raped on March 20, 1995. If she reports the rape to the police any time on or before March 20, 1998, the prosecution has until March 20, 2005 to bring charges against the alleged perpetrator. If, however, the woman reports the rape to police on March 31, 1998, the prosecution cannot file charges, because the law required her to have reported the rape within three years of its occurrence.

If the alleged sexual assault occurred when the victim was under 18 years of age, the prosecution has 20 years from the date the victim turns 18 to file charges. So, if a child was raped July 7, 1975 at the age of 8, the prosecution has until July 7, 2005 to file charges against the accused. If the charge was for misdemeanor criminal sexual abuse, the prosecution has 10 years from the date the victim turns 18 to bring charges.

So depending on when the woman reported the sexual assault and her age when it happened, it is possible for charges to be brought for a sexual assault that occurred a decade, possibly even three decades, ago. However, the likelihood of success in such an old case is slim. Witness memory fades and, without physical evidence, such as a rape kit or other DNA evidence, the case would be nothing more than he said-she said, which is difficult to prove over such a long period of time.

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