Articles Tagged with Chicago sex crimes lawyer

louis-reed-747388-unsplash-copy-300x200A man entered a 43-year-old woman’s apartment through a back door that she had left open to get some air and sexually assaulted her. A year passed with no suspects. Now, DNA links Christopher Nelson to the crime. He has been denied bail.

Decades of CSI-style TV shows have led the American public to believe that DNA evidence is unimpeachable. Indeed, it provides law enforcement with its best means of tracking individuals to certain crimes. DNA links Nelson to the crime and the woman he assaulted also picked him out of a lineup.

Understanding DNA Evidence in Rape Cases

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While the First Amendment protects the right of adults to watch and produce pornography, this right is not without limitations. For example, child pornography is not protected under the First Amendment and is always illegal. Child pornography is any visual depiction of a minor, aka a person under 18 years old, engaging in a sexual activity. In recent years the federal government has become more and more focused on prosecuting those who have allegedly produced, distributed, or viewed child pornography.

One of the most recent child pornography cases in Illinois involves a Yorkville man who was recently sentenced to 12 years in prison for a child pornography conviction and for violating the Sex Offender Registration Act, reports MyInforms.com. As the man had been convicted of child pornography related crimes three times before, the Kendall County Sheriff’s Office conducted a compliance check in December 2015 to confirm that the Yorkville man was in compliance with the Sex Offender Registration Act. MyInforms.com notes that via this compliance check the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force discovered that approximately 100 images depicting child pornography had been downloaded to the man’s personal computer. After obtaining a search warrant, investigators found that the man was illegally in possession of images showing children younger than 13 years old engaged in sexual acts. The man was charged with five counts of possessing child pornography depicting a child less than 13 years, which is a Class 1 felony.

The Sex Offender Registration Act

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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