What to Do if You Have Been Accused of Sexual Assault
Posted on Sunday, January 1st, 2023 at 1:48 pm
Facing criminal charges of any kind can feel frustrating and overwhelming. When the alleged crime is sexual assault, the potential consequences are terrifying. Few accusations have the same capacity to turn a person into a social outcast overnight, and the penalties are severe for those who are convicted.
Yet accusations do not automatically equate to convictions. You can improve your chances of a favorable outcome in your case if you take certain steps as swiftly and carefully as possible. Having an experienced Illinois sex crimes defense attorney by your side as you take these steps can give you the confidence you need to weather the storm.
Avoid Making Statements to the Police
Facing questions from law enforcement officers is an intimidating experience for almost everyone. However, do not let your nervousness compel you to give them more information than your basic identifying details, such as your name and date of birth. For all other questions, you should exercise your right to remain silent. If you say anything more, you risk incriminating yourself in ways you might not realize.
Do Not Speak about the Accusations on Social Media
Many people spend a considerable amount of time on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. You may think it is a good idea to use your online presence to address the accusations you are facing or to attempt to clear your name. However, you never know how investigators will construe your posts. While your case is ongoing, avoid using social media.
Do Not Allow Police to Search Your Property
If the police arrive at your home asking for access to your property or devices, ask to see a warrant. If they cannot provide one, tell them that you do not consent to the search. They may search your home anyway, but any evidence they obtain without your consent will not be admissible in court.
Get Specifics about the Accusations
Upon your arraignment, or shortly thereafter, you will be able to access the police report related to your arrest. This report will give you more details about the circumstances that led to your charges. You should also request a copy of the accuser’s statement, which can help you understand what evidence the police have against you. Knowledge is power. The more you know about the accusations you are facing, the more empowered you will be to refute them.
Understand Illinois’s Sexual Assault Laws
Illinois defines sexual assault as sexual contact or behavior to which the recipient does not give explicit consent. The three categories of sexual assault are:
- Aggravated criminal sexual assault (ACSA) – This crime is classed as either a Class X felony or a Class 1 felony. If you are convicted of ACSA with serious bodily harm (Class X felony), the penalty ranges from six to 30 years in prison. A Class 1 felony (without serious bodily harm) carries penalties from probation to 14 years in prison. However, a second conviction in this category may result in ten to 34 years behind bars.
- Predatory criminal sexual assault – This charge is a sex crime against a child, and it constitutes a Class X felony. Depending on the circumstances, a conviction can lead to imprisonment of anywhere from six years to life.
- Criminal sexual abuse – This charge is used in a range of circumstances, including unwanted touching of another person’s genitals or breasts, making sexual videos of another person against their will, and making lewd comments about another person’s body. A conviction of this Class 4 felony can result in a prison sentence of one to three years, as well as a fine of up to $25,000.
Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney Immediately
Sex crime convictions lead not only to prison time and hefty fines but also to a substantial loss of liberties. Even after you have served your sentence, you will need to register as a sex offender. You may not be allowed to live in certain areas or own a firearm. You may also face serious difficulties finding employment or enrolling in higher education. With these potential consequences, you need to give yourself the strongest possible chance of fighting these charges successfully.
If you are facing sexual assault allegations or charges, you need an experienced and skilled criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The knowledgeable Champaign sex crimes lawyers of Bruno Law Offices will help you understand your rights. They know how to craft a strong defense on your behalf. Call us today at (217) 328-6000 or contact us online to learn more about your legal options.