Chicago Child Molestation Defense Lawyer
Child molestation is a broad term. It involves sexual or indecent activities between an adult and a child under age 14. Generally speaking, it involves inappropriate touching of a child’s body. This can occur with or without sexual intercourse.
The penalties for those convicted of child molestation can be stiff and the consequences can follow you for the rest of your life. Because of this, don’t take child molestation charges lightly. Hire a Chicago child molestation defense lawyer who can defend your case. Call O’Meara Law today at 312-909-0706 to find out how we can help you.
What is Child Molestation?
Under Illinois law, child molestation is a form of abuse. Child sex abuse encompasses many elements. While sexual activity is the most common act involved in this crime, there are other forms of sexual behavior that are considered child molestation. These include inappropriate touching and contact that does not lead to penetration, as well as exposing the child to pornography (naked pictures, videos, etc.). Forcing the child to watch sex acts (either in person or on video) is also a form of child molestation. If the activities have sexual undertones and/or the child is used as sexual stimulation, then they are deemed inappropriate and the adult could face criminal charges.
Various crimes may be categorized as child molestation, each of which is prosecuted at the state level. Charges may include, but are not limited to:
- Criminal sexual abuse (Class A misdemeanor or Class 4 felony) – This may involve consensual sex between two people who are both under 17, but at least 9 years old or consensual sex where the victim was at least 13 but less than 17 and the accused was under 21. The age difference must be less than five years. This may include a victim who is 16 and an accused who is 20.
- Aggravated criminal sexual abuse (Class 2 felony) – If the age difference between the consensual sexual partners was more than five years, then the crime is aggravated. This may involve a victim who is 16 and an accused who is 21.
- Aggravated criminal sexual assault (Class 1 felony) – This involves non-consensual sex. When the victim is under the age of 18, the penalties may be increased.
In some cases, minors are the ones who voluntarily report the activity to adults or law enforcement agencies. In addition, several classes of individuals are considered mandatory reporters by the state and must also report any activity that could be considered molestation or otherwise put the child at risk. These include medical professionals, clergy, teachers, and social workers. Even if the child does not come forth with information, these individuals are trained to look for symptoms of sexual abuse, such as bruises, changes in behavior and emotional outbursts.
Illinois Penalties for Child Molestation
Penalties vary according to the specific situation and the age of the alleged victim. Criminal penalties may include:
- Class A misdemeanor – Up to one year in jail, two years of probation, and a fine of up to $2,500
- Class 4 felony – Between one and six years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000
- Class 3 felony – Between two and five years in prison or an extended term of five to 10 years and a fine of up to $25,000
- Class 2 felony – Between three and seven years in prison or seven to 14 years for an extended term and up to $25,000 in fines
- Class 1 felony – Between four and 15 years in prison or 15 to 30 years in prison for an extended term and up to $25,000 in fines
Repeat offenders may also face “extended” sentences for subsequent acts of child molestation.
Consequences of a Child Molestation Conviction
Child molestation is a serious crime that carries a lot of stigma. Most responsible parents do not want their children around a person labeled as a molester. Because of this, a person convicted of such charges will be barred from working as a teacher, social worker, or other forms of employment that involve working with children.
Most child molesters do not serve life sentences in prison. During the time they do spend in jail, the focus is on rehabilitation. Those convicted of child molestation crimes often must attend intense therapy and counseling sessions in order to repress their urges.
In many communities, those convicted of sex crimes must register as a sex offender. Sex offenders may be limited as to where they can work or live. In many cases, they may not live near a school, park, or other places where children are often present. In addition, they have to regularly check in with law enforcement. Those who move must provide law enforcement with their new address within a certain time frame.
O’Meara Law Can Help You
Many adults are wrongly accused of child molestation. Family disputes and custody issues can breed false allegations of abuse. Therefore, it is up to the defendant to prove that the allegations are indeed false. This may be fairly easy if there are reasons to believe that the child would lie. Influence by another party or a history of lying are defenses that can be used.
At the same time, attacking a child’s character can be risky. Because children are often believed to be innocent, this can be seen as aggressive. That’s why you need help from a Chicago child molestation defense lawyer at O’Meara Law.
Michael O’Meara can help you formulate a valid defense thanks to his experience as a former prosecutor. He understands that the charges you face could affect you for the rest of your life.
Call O’Meara Law today at 312-909-0706 to find out how we can help you.