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Important information if you are accused of a sex offense in Illinois

Talking to the police can get you into trouble if you are being investigated.
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    December 12, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Any type of criminal charge is a serious matter. But, sex crimes can carry some of the most severe consequences.

If you have been charged with some kind of sexual offense in Illinois, or even if you have just become aware that you may be the subject of an investigation, there are some things you should be aware of that can be critical to your defense.

Statute of limitations lengthy, as are potential prison terms

Under Illinois law, the general statute of limitations for a sex crime is three years for a felony, and 18 months for a misdemeanor. However, for felony sex crimes, if the alleged victim was an adult and the alleged incident is reported within three years, the statute of limitations is extended to 10 years. If the alleged victim of a sex offense was a minor, for a misdemeanor charge, the statute of limitations runs until the minor reaches age 28; if the alleged victim was a minor and it is a felony charge, the statute of limitations runs until the minor reaches age 38. To put it succinctly, sex crime charges will not simply "go away."

Even comparatively minor sex crime convictions can mean mandatory registration on the Illinois Sex Offender Database, which can impact your employment, reputation, even where you can live. For more serious sex crimes, the very severe consequence of ending up on a sex offender registry pales in comparison to the lengthy prison terms that could be imposed. For instance, for criminal sexual assault, an offense in the mid range of severity in terms of Illinois sex crimes, a first conviction means a mandatory prison term of between four and fifteen years; a second conviction can mean incarceration for natural life.

Practical steps: What to do if a law enforcement officer shows up at your door

Often, you will not know you are being investigated for a sex crime until police officers show up on your doorstep or make a call to your home. They may not intend to arrest you, however.

A common police tactic when investigating a sex crime is to ask for a statement while you are in your own home. Not only are people often more willing to open up in a comfortable setting, but police officers do not have to inform you of your rights before asking you questions if you have not been placed in custody. Officers may indicate that they are only trying to "straighten things out" or "get your side of the story," but make no mistake: they are gathering evidence against you. You can talk yourself into trouble in this situation, but you can't talk yourself out of it.

Once you become aware you are being investigated for a sex crime, the appropriate steps are simple. Politely, but firmly, decline to provide a statement to police. It may be difficult to amend a statement once it is given, and you can always give a statement later if your attorney finds it to be in your best interests. Tell the officers that you never talk about legal matters unless your lawyer is present, and ask them to leave their contact information so that your lawyer can get in touch with them. Of course, the next critical step for you is to get in touch with an Illinois sex crimes lawyer immediately.

Sex crimes are a very serious matter in Illinois. But, with a strong legal defense, you can stand up for your rights, fighting to protect your freedom and your future.

Article provided by Wolfe & Stec, Ltd.
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