Age in Criminal Law

When being charged with a crime in Illinois, age can play a significant role under certain circumstances. The issue of age can be significant in relation to both the individual charged and the victim of the alleged offense. Age can also play a role in determining the type of charge that is filed against the offender which could also have an impact on sentencing parameters. Certain circumstances where the issue of age plays a role includes:

  • Sex Offenses in regards to the issue of consent
  • Charging Decisions based upon the age of the Offender or Victim
  • When the offender commits a crime as a minor

AGE OF CONSENT IN SEX OFFENSES

One area of Criminal Law where age plays an integral role relates to the issue of consent in regards to sex offenses. Under Illinois law, the age of consent is 17 years old under most circumstances.  Basically, a person who is under 17 years of age in the State of Illinois cannot legally consent to sexual activity with another person regardless of the offenders age.  However, one exception is that the age of consent raises to 18 in a situation where the Defendant is under a position of trust or authority over the alleged victim.  In this situation, a defendant holds a position of power over the alleged victim such as a teacher or a counselor. For more information about the age of consent in the U.S., follow the below link:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ages_of_consent_in_the_United_States

Additionally, the age of the offender also plays a role to the issue of age of consent of sex offenses. if the offender is under 17 years of age with a victim who is under 17 years of age but older than 9 years of age, then it would be classified as a different type of sex offense.  If no force is involved, the offenses would be classified as a lower class felony or even in some instances, a misdemeanor. These situations don’t involve the issue of force but are premised upon the fact that victim is under 17 years old and cannot legally consent under Illinois law regardless of the offender’s age.  Also, if an offender is over 18 and the victim is under 13, that person is charged with the offense of Predatory Criminal Sexual Assault of a Child where the issue of consent is irrelevant.

CHARGING DECISIONS BASED UPON THE AGE OF THE OFFENDER AND THE VICTIM

Age can also play a role in regards to a Prosecutor’s discretion as to what specific charges to file where the age of the victim and/or offender is at issue. Typically, when a victim is either over the age of 60 or under the age of 13, this results in the Prosecutor filing specific charges that is a higher class of felony.  In the same or other circumstances, specific charges based on the age of the victim can also result in enhanced sentencing parameters.

The following is an example of a situation where a crime would be charged as a felony as opposed to a misdemeanor. When a person commits a battery upon a person of one of the aforementioned ages, the offender would automatically be charged with felony aggravated battery as opposed to a misdemeanor battery charge.  This is due to Illinois law which classifies the battery of a minor under 13 or a person over 60 as a felony charge.  Typically, the age of the victim results in a higher class felony charge.

Additionally, an example of a situation where enhanced sentencing parameters come to play would be in a situation where someone is charged with first degree murder if a child under 12 years old. Under Illinois law, if a child under 12 years old is murdered and it is considered in a heinous manner, this is classified as an aggravating factor which could result in higher sentence of an individual convicted of this crime.

MINOR OFFENDER

When the offender commits a felony as a minor, this poses the issue of whether the minor should be tried as a juvenile or an adult. Under Illinois law, a minor is a person under the age of 18.  This is another decision that is made by the prosecutor to transfer the matter to adult court.  However, unlike a Prosecutor’s power to file specific charges in felonies involving adults, a Prosecutor’s decision to transfer a juvenile’s matter to adult court is not absolute.  If a juvenile is 15 or under when he or she commits a crime, a prosecutor’s decision to transfer the matter from juvenile court to adult court is subject to defense opposition and the juvenile court’s discretion to grant a transfer based on various factors.  However, if the juvenile is 16 or 17 and commits specific offenses, a prosecutor’s decision to transfer the matter to adult court can be found to be automatic.  These are usually limited to certain offenses of violence and the offense of aggravated criminal sexual assault.  When a transfer is automatic, it is not subject to the juvenile court’s discretion or defense opposition.  Other crimes committed by a juvenile at the age of 16 or 17 are subject to discretion of the court and defense opposition.

As illustrated, age can be crucial in a variety of circumstances in the area of criminal law. Whether it’s the age of the victim or offender; in regards to the issue of consent, charging decisions or juvenile transfers, this fact can create complex legal issues in an individual’s case.

Wigell Criminal Defense has over 40 years of experience of handling cases involving the aforementioned types of issues. If you or someone you love is in this type of complex legal situation, don’t hesitate to contact Wigell Criminal Defense.  Contact Wigell Criminal Defense to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney about your or your loved one’s matter.

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