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Archive for the ‘Sexual Assault’ Category

Criminal Sexual Assault and Aggravated Criminal Sexual Assault

May 6th, 2015 at 7:01 am

Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal lawyer, rape,Sex offenses are some of the most difficult types of crimes to defend. While juries and the public are willing to consider most criminal defendants to be innocent until proven guilty, and while they are supposed to do this in sex cases, often they are unable to do so. This is particularly true when the alleged victim of the offense is a child, as most people do not understand the reality that children can be easily led to make false or inaccurate allegations. That is why it is so important that when you are facing charges for a sex offense that you obtain the help of a criminal defense attorney who is experienced with defending this type of offense. There are many different types of sex offenses one can be charged with in Illinois, so it is important for you to understand exactly what it is you are being accused of having done.

Criminal Sexual Assault

Criminal sexual assault is a felony sex offense in Illinois. A person commits this offense if he or she commits an act of sexual penetration and one of the following four statements is true:

  • He or she used force or the threat of force;
  • He or she knew that the alleged victim was unable to understand the nature of the sexual act or was unable to give knowing consent;
  • He or she is a family member of the alleged victim and the alleged victim is under the age of 18; or
  • He or she is 17 years old or older, the alleged victim is between the ages of 13 and 18, and the accused holds some sort of position of power or authority over the alleged victim.

 Aggravated Criminal Sexual Assault

Aggravated criminal sexual assault is another more serious felony sex offense in Illinois. This crime requires that the accused commit criminal sexual assault and that one of a list of aggravating factors is present. This aggravating factors include:

  1. That the accused displayed, used, or threatened to use a dangerous weapon other than a firearm, or that the accused displayed, used, or threatened to use some other object that would lead the alleged victim to reasonably believe that it was a dangerous weapon;
  2. That the accused caused great bodily harm to the alleged victim.
  3. That the accused acted in some way that threatened or endangered either the life of the alleged victim or the life of some other person;
  4. That the accused committed the assault while committing or trying to commit some other felony;
  5. That the alleged victim of the sexual assault is age 60 or older;
  6. That the alleged victim of the sexual assault is a physically disabled person;
  7. That the accused drugged the alleged victim without the alleged victim’s consent or by threat or deception;
  8. That the accused was armed with a firearm;
  9. That the accused personally fired a firearm during the commission of the assault; or
  10. That the accused personally fired a firearm during the assault and that the firing of the firearm caused great bodily harm, permanent disability, permanent disfigurement, or death.

There are two other ways to commit aggravated sexual assault. The first happens where the accused is under 17 years old and he or she commits an act of sexual penetration with a person under nine years old or uses force or the threat of force to engage in an act of sexual penetration with a child between the ages of nine and 13. The other type of aggravated sexual assault happens where a person commits an act of sexual penetration with an alleged victim who is severely or profoundly intellectually disabled.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

If you or someone you love has been charged with a sex offense, you need the assistance of an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney. Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today at (847)394-3200 for a consultation on your case.

Predatory Criminal Sexual Assault of a Child and Criminal Sexual Abuse

April 28th, 2015 at 5:21 am

Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal lawyer, crimes against children,When you are charged with a sex offense you need the help of a criminal defense attorney who is experienced with defending this type of offense. Because of the unique types of evidence that are often used in cases involving allegations of sex crimes, these cases often require specialized knowledge. Additionally, these cases often hinge on the testimony of the victim more than any other type of case, meaning you need an attorney who knows how to handle victims in court. There are a whole host of different sex crimes charges in Illinois, and each of them has slightly different requirements in order for one to be found guilty. One such charge is predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, a serious allegation that carries significant penalties upon conviction.

Predatory Criminal Sexual Assault of a Child

A person can be found guilty of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child if he or she is age 17 or older and has does one of the following with a person who is less than 13 years old:

  • Commits an act of contact between the sex organ or anus of one person and a body part of another person for sexual purposes; or
  • Commits an act of sexual penetration.

The punishment for this offense is more severe if the accused was armed with a firearm, personally discharged a firearm during the offense, caused great bodily harm to the victim resulting in permanent disability or a threat to his or her life, or drugged the victim.

Criminal Sex Abuse

There are three main ways a person can commit the crime of criminal sex abuse.The first involves the accused either committing an act of sexual conduct by the use of force or threat of force, or committing an act of sexual conduct when he or she knows that the alleged victim is unable to understand the nature of the act or give knowing consent. So what is “sexual conduct?” It is any knowing touching or fondling, either directly or through clothes, of the sex organs, anus or breast. It can also involve the fondling of any part of the body of a child under 13 years old, or the transfer of semen onto any part of the alleged victim’s body. In order to be “sexual conduct” the purpose of the conduct must be sexual gratification or arousal.

The second kind of criminal sexual abuse involves a person under the age of 17 years old committing an act of sexual penetration or sexual conduct with a person who is between the ages of nine and 17. The third type of criminal sexual abuse involves a person committing an act of ssexual penetration or sexual conduct with a victim who is at least 13 years of age but under 17 years of age, where the accused is less than five years older than the alleged victim.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

When you are charged with a sex offense you need the help of an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney. Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today at (847)394-3200. When you call we can schedule a time to visit with you and determine how we can be of help.

Illinois Senate Reforms Rape Law

May 5th, 2014 at 7:00 am

Illinois Senate Reforms Rape Law | Cook County Criminal Defense LawyerA crippling backlog of rape kit testing is a problem in different counties and states across the country. Unsurprisingly, the state of Illinois is no exception. Backlogs in rape kit testing – due to numerous factors, ranging from the mishandling of kits to understaffing of testing labs – often caused rape cases to go without being prosecuted, essentially victimizing the one assaulted for the second time. Now, an important change in the law seeks to prevent situations like that from occurring.

Cases Influencing Change

In one case, a woman was beaten and raped in a south suburb of Chicago in 1977. After the incident, the local police department failed to follow through on her case, losing evidence crucial to apprehending a suspect. As a result of their failure to follow through, enough time passed for the statute of limitations to run out on the case, which prevented charges from ever being filed. Despite the failure and the victim’s loss of confidence in the justice system, she continued to fight for change in the law.

Senate Action

This case, in addition to countless others, made the argument to win Senate approval for a law that would allow more than 10 years, the previous applicable statute of limitations that began running the day the crime was committed, to bring charges for rape. The Senate unanimously passed the measure, which now makes the clock begin on the statute of limitations the day a rape kit is examined, and no longer on the day of the crime.

This is an important and significant change, especially in light of the known problems with the backlog of rape kit testing. Prior to 2013, more than 4,000 rape kits from agencies across the state were forwarded to Illinois State Police due to a law passed in 2010, which required all old evidence in sexual assault cases to be sent to state police. The legislation extending the applicable period of the statute of limitations is now set to go to the House.

The Failure to Investigate

Despite officers’ assurance to the victim of the 1977 case that the incident would be investigated, it likely never was. The officers who took the victim’s statements were, in fact, part-time employees. Moreover, there is a strong indication that rape crimes simply were not being investigated by law enforcement at the time this victim was raped. Still, the victim was able to obtain her attacker’s name three years after the crime and presented it to police; her rape kit had been misplaced by that time though.

At that point, the decision not to prosecute such cases was a conscious one. Later, staffing issues and a lack of capacity may have prevented such cases from being investigated. Today, the situation seems to be improving. Officers are being trained in the context of investigating and prosecuting sexual assaults and rape cases.

Criminal Law Attorney

This change represents an important shift in the law that can affect the rights of both victims and defendants. Sexual assault crimes are serious charges, and it is imperative to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney if you or someone you know is charged with such a crime. Contact the attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today and schedule a consultation. We serve clients in Chicago and the surrounding area.

Cracking Down on Sex Trafficking in Chicago

March 24th, 2014 at 12:49 pm

sex trafficking, sex crimes, lawyer, attorney, Chicago criminal law, Illinois criminal law

It goes without saying that sex crimes of any nature are very serious cases that should be handled with special care and attention. Sex crimes can involve a variety of incidents leading to criminal charges, but the government and law enforcement in the Chicago area are focusing their efforts on human trafficking, and the organizations involved in promoting it. A recent article explained the city’s actions in relation to targeting those culpable of such crimes.

Government Action

United States Senator Mark Kirk and Anita Alvarez, a Cook County State’s Attorney, called for the partnering of local and federal officials to put an end to sex trafficking across the country. One of their efforts includes preventing websites from contributing to the trafficking. They even went so far as to say human trafficking was really just modern day slavery. The Senator said that just as Illinois was the first state to ratify the 13th amendment, which put an end to slavery, the state was in a unique position to put a similar end to human trafficking. He said a good place to start would be to stop the publication of sex ads on websites, many of which are also responsible for prostitution advertising.

The Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation (SAVE) and Safe Children’s Acts

In keeping with his call to action, Senator Kirk plans on introducing the SAVE Act in the Senate this week. The legislation will allow the federal government to prosecute websites, like backpage.com, that contribute to children being victimized via commercial advertising. On the state level, the state’s attorney said her office passed the Illinois Safe Children’s Act, which was drafted to protect child victims of sex trafficking. Since the law was passed, 93 defendants have been charged with crimes related to trafficking in state court.

The Internet’s Role

According to the article, the internet has played a huge role in promoting human trafficking and sex crimes. It makes such offenses easier, and often facilitates the commission of the crimes for pedophiles and sex traffickers, who have access to advertising for such acts at any time. Proponents of the legislation described above say it is necessary to stop websites from profiting from criminal activity that victimizes children. They also claim that current law operates to protect sex trafficking websites and their owners from prosecution because they only exist on the internet.

Not all sex crimes involve human trafficking. Sexual assault, prostitution, indecent exposure and possession of child pornography are also sex crimes that can bring with them serious consequences. As such, it is critical that those charged with crimes such as these consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney. If you or someone you know has been charged with a sex crime in Chicago or a surrounding area in the state of Illinois, the attorneys at The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley are prepared to assist in your defense. Contact us today to discuss the facts of your particular case.

Backlog of Rape Kit Testing is a Problem Nationwide

February 7th, 2014 at 12:11 pm

Rape Kit Testing IMAGEThe Chicago Tribune recently reported on a story covering the delay in processing and sometimes complete failure of rape kits to be tested by law enforcement and lab workers across the country. The fear of many is that as a result of this failure, victims would not get justice and their attackers would remain free to rape them and potential other victims, as long as they were not in prison. As a result, many concerned citizens are forming organizations and getting involved in groups aimed at eliminating the backlog and coming up with alternative ways of testing rape kits and tracking them.

 Many advocates of the victims allege that the backlog in testing is attributed to the low priority that many sexual assault victims are given by law enforcement. Illinois was the first of four states to mandate the testing of rape kits, which it implemented in 2010. Now, the almost 4,100 kits that were untested at the time have been processed, some decades old. The completed kits were sent back to the appropriate local police departments for further action. The results made 927 matches in the national DNA database, giving law enforcement promising leads.

That law in Illinois gives police 10 business days to transfer completed rape kits to the state crime labs. The labs, in turn, have six months to process the kits. While the law is considered to be a step in the right direction, the conditions under which it must be followed are flexible: police compliance is voluntary and the time limit only applies to labs if they have enough staff and resources for administering the testing. State officials are monitoring the law and looking into how the process can be improved.

In the meantime, backlog problems will likely still exist because of cost, lab staffing, and tracking issues. This means some offenders may never be prosecuted, either because the kits were not tested or the relevant statute of limitations had expired by the time they were. The article reports a statistic echoing this fact. The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network says that 97 percent of rapists are never incarcerated, due in large part to victims’ failure to report. They estimate that 40 of every 100 sexual assaults are reported to police.

Sexual assault crimes, including rape, are serious offenses that usually involve complicated legal issues that arise within the context of a criminal case. An experienced criminal defense attorney can protect your rights. Contact us today for a consultation.

Date Rape is Still Rape

November 29th, 2013 at 4:00 pm

Many people believe that date rape is not as serious as other kinds of rape.  However, the only reason for the differentiation between the two terms is to specify the status of the involved parties.  For example, the term “rape” generally happens between two strangers, while “date rape” or “acquaintance rape” happens between two people who previously knew each other on some level.  Date rape can happen on a date, between two friends, between two people in a relationship, or between members of a former couple.  Furthermore, because date rape regularly occurs after a date or a party, the term often indicates that alcohol or drugs played a role in the conduct.

Date Rape is Still RapeSome offenders believe that accusations of date rape are not as serious as other types of rape charges, and that they will face less severe consequences if they force sex with someone they already know.  This belief is mistaken, as Illinois law does not differentiate between types of rape.  Prosecutors charge any rape act, regardless of the status of the parties, under 720 ILCS 5/11-1.20 for criminal sexual assault or 720 ILCS 5/11-1.30 for aggravated criminal sexual assault.

What constitutes criminal sexual assault?

The charge of criminal sexual assault is a Class 1 Felony and applies to anyone who allegedly commits an act of sexual penetration by using force or the threat of force.  The charge also applies to sex when the accused knew the victim would be unable to give knowing consent or is unable to understand the nature of the sexual act.  Therefore, this statute applies directly to many date rape situations in which the accuser claims to have been under the influence of alcohol or drugs and therefore was unable to protest.

A charge may be escalated to aggravated criminal sexual assault, a Class X Felony, under certain circumstances such as the accused used any time of weapon or caused any bodily harm to the victim.  It is not uncommon for some harm to occur in forceful date rape situations, so this charge is not reserved for stranger rape.

If convicted of criminal sexual assault, you may face mandatory prison time of four to fifteen years or six to thirty years for an aggravated charge.  Additionally, you will have to register with the Illinois Sex Offender Database, where information such as your name, address, and criminal conduct will be publicly available.  Therefore, date rape can result in very severe penalties that may affect your freedom, future employability, and life in general.

What should I do if I have been accused of date rape?

If you have been arrested or charged with any type of sexual assault, it is highly important that you contact an experienced Illinois criminal attorney as soon as possible.  Do not hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today.

Illinois Age of Consent and What it Means

September 23rd, 2013 at 9:09 am

When teenagers begin to date, usually they meet at school and most often, they are the same age. As teens branch out however, meeting people from other schools, hanging out with people from work and meeting new people in the community, they sometimes date older men or women.

When a teenager under the age of 17 dates someone that is 17 or older in Illinois, the relationship can get complicated.

Statutory rape is any type of sexual intercourse that occurs between someone under the age of consent, which is 17 in Illinois, and someone that is a legal adult (18). Essentially what this means is that if someone under 17 and someone 18 or older in Illinois willingly have sex, charges can still be filed against the older person because the partner is a minor.

Although this law typically pertains to men and women that are significantly older than their underage significant other, it also technically applies even to high school students who may only be a couple months apart in age. In those few months in which one partner has reached the age of consent while the other has not, they are committing statutory rape when participating in sexual activities.

LucyMore often now than ever, high school students are having sex. It may be from peer pressure and it may also be attributed to the fact that kids are simply growing up faster than they used to, physically and mentally. If you are a teen or if you have a teen that may be considering having sex, be sure that he or she understands the seriousness of the activity.

Not only is sex a big deal mentally and physically, but also emotionally, and it could be legally too.  Most parents will not press charges against their son’s or daughter’s boyfriend or girlfriend if they are just a year older, but older people may get into more trouble. An underage person having sex, even with a significant other, who is much older, is putting that significant other at risk of getting in trouble with the law.

If you have been charged with statutory rape or any other form of rape, or perhaps you are considering charging someone else with rape, contact a criminal attorney in Rolling Meadows, Ill. for help. Attorney Chris Cosley will help you through the court process to get the outcome that you want today.

Mount Prospect Man Sentenced for Sexual Assault

February 14th, 2013 at 4:27 pm

Herbert Burgess, 58, was convicted in early February in a Cook County Circuit Court of a Class X felony and sentenced to 24 years in prison. Burgess was accused of sexually assaulting a youth who worked for him, “the son of friends he had known for years,” according to the Chicago Tribune. Burgess was a former executive for a Buffalo Grove printing firm, and the assault of the young man occurred in Burgess’ residence on Lexington Drive. The 24-year sentence will be served concurrently, according to the Tribune, and includes 15 years for criminal sexual assault and three years for unlawful restraint. One of the key witnesses in the trial was a male who claimed on the stand that Burgess had molested him in 1978 after having been plied with alcoholic beverages. Mount Prospect Man Sentenced for Sexual Assault IMAGE

According to the United States Bureau of Justice, sexual assault can be described for “a wide range of victimizations, separate from rape or attempted rape.” They usually involve attacks or attempted attacks, and usually involve unwanted sexual contact. Sexual assault can also refer to verbal threats. According to a Canadian Justice Department publication, a perpetrator of sexual abuse will “most likely be a friend or family member.” The specifics of the sexual assault in the Burgess case were not revealed to the media, though it was clear that he was an old acquaintance of his victim.

The Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault (ICASA) is a group that works with and for survivors of sexual victimization in the state. According to the ICASA, in 2012, the organization served 18,092 adult, adolescent, and child survivors of sexual assault, child sexual abuse, and sexual harassment. The number was significantly lower than the 2011 figure of 18,896.

If you or someone you know has been accused of a sexual assault crime, don’t go through it alone. Contact a dedicated Chicago-area criminal defense attorney today.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Felon Facing New Charges Due to DNA Testing

December 31st, 2012 at 6:32 am

Felon Facing New ChargesMichael A. Escort, 52, a Joliet man currently serving time for a different crime has been convicted of a 1989 murder, according to the Chicago Tribune. Escort is currently in prison for an aggravated criminal sexual assault and aggravated kidnapping conviction, but is now also facing charges of first-degree murder of an Englewood woman named Mary Smith. Police News Affairs told the Tribune that “DNA evidence linked Escort to the murder and he was in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections when he was arrested for the murder.” Bond has been set at $750,000, but—because he is already in prison—Escort cannot be released on bond.

Post-conviction DNA testing is controversial. The most active group in favor of DNA testing is the Innocence Project, a non-profit associated with the Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University. According to Innocence Project data, “301 people in the United States have been exonerated by DNA testing, including 18 who served time on death row. These people served an average of 13 years in prison before exoneration and release.” Advocates of post-conviction DNA testing say it’s especially important for people convicted of crimes before DNA testing was available.

Yet opponents of DNA testing, like that that could sentence Escort to an even longer sentence than he’s already serving, say that DNA testing shouldn’t be treated as the end-all, be-all means of evidence. According to the New Scientist, “different forensic analysts can reach very different conclusions about whether or not DNA matches a profile from a crime scene.”

If you or someone you know has been wrongly accused of a crime—or is facing conviction due to faulty DNA testing—don’t go through it alone. The most important step to exoneration is contacting a dedicated Illinois criminal defense attorney today.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Supreme Court Endorses Verdict of Chicago Rapist

July 2nd, 2012 at 1:21 pm

On June 18th, the Supreme Court voted on a controversial issue concerning in-court procedures.  The Justice’s decision was split 5-4 in conflict with the high court’s ruling that any defendant should have the opportunity to question the expert testimony of a DNA analyst.  The issue was presented by a Chicago-area man named Sandy Williams who was convicted of rape but was not allowed to question the reliability of the claims which influenced his sentencing.

Williams was convicted of raping a 22-year old woman in Chicago who was returning home from work and raped by a man in his car.  The genetic material was sent for genetic testing to a laboratory in Maryland.  With the results of that DNA profile, an analyst from the Illinois state crime lab named Sandra Lambatos testified at the trial and was cross-examined by Williams’ defense attorney.

The DNA expert’s testimony swore that William’s DNA matched a sample taken from the victim, which led to the conviction of Williams.  The problem is presented by the fact that the expert played no role in the testing of the samples of William’s DNA. The 3rd party company, named Cellmark, who did the actual tests, was not present to defend their findings.  Courts had previously ruled that criminal defendants have the privilege to interrogate the analyst who prepared the results of testing.

The 6th amendment of the Constitution grants that the “accused shall enjoy the right … to be confronted with the witnesses against him.”  This is termed the “Confrontation clause.”  Many instances of previous crimes were overturned due to the lack of an analyst’s testimony to the vigor of the testing.  A conviction of a drunk driver in New Mexico was overturned because the analyst didn’t testify in the courtroom.  Constitutionality plays a vital role in the procedures of court in all aspects of criminal law.  An experienced defense attorney will work tirelessly to ensure your rights as an American are held sacred.  Please contact a skilled criminal defense attorney in Rolling Meadows, Illinois today.

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