When people are accused of sexual assault, they face harsh consequences including having to register on the sex offender registry. With such high stakes, people may feel like they do not have any choice but to negotiate with prosecutors and agree to a plea deal. However, Illinois residents facing a criminal sexual assault charge should understand that they have criminal defense options and they do not need to automatically agree to a plea deal.
In many situations, there are defenses available that can help to reduce or eliminate sexual assault charges. One of those defenses is consent. In other words, if the person consented to the sexual contact and the person is not a minor, then the other person cannot be found guilty of sexual assault.
In a recent Chicago case, two Merrionette Park firefighters have been charged with sexual assault. Neither of these men have a prior criminal history. According to police, the men were at a party where a woman had too much to drink. This woman’s boyfriend put the woman in an upstairs bedroom before returning to the party. Police allege that the firefighters told people they were leaving but went up stairs. One guarded the door while the other allegedly had sexual contact with the woman. The pair was discovered by the woman’s boyfriend when he went to check on her.
The men were arrested and have been charged with attempted criminal sexual assault and criminal sexual abuse. Bail has been set at $100,000 for one man and $250,000 for the other.
The men, on the other hand, claim that the woman had been flirting with them all night and had invited them upstairs. They also claim that she took her own clothes off. They have vowed to fight the charges in court.
Arguing that the allege victim consented is just one of many criminal defense options that could be available to someone who has been charged with criminal sexual assault. Those charged should explore all of their defense options before agreeing to anything with prosecutors.
Source: Chicago Tribune, “Merrionette Park firefighters charged with attempted sexual assault at party,” Geoff Ziezulewicz, June 17, 2013