What Happens When Arrested for a Sex Crime?

If you are facing arrest for a sex crime, you may be concerned about what happens. When arrested for a sex crime in Illinois, you begin the process that can eventually result in being found guilty of your charges or being released. Throughout this process, it is essential for you to have an experienced sex crime charge defense lawyer fighting for you every step of the way. Here is what you need to know about sex crime charges in Illinois.

Sex Crime Charges in Illinois

Sex crime charges in Illinois cover numerous situations involving all manner of activities. In many cases, sex crimes boil down to the issue of consent or the lack thereof. For example, the following common sex acts become illegal in the absence of valid legal consent:

  • Sexual intercourse
  • Oral sex
  • Fondling and touching
  • Grinding.

Kissing also becomes illegal without consent.

Understanding Consent

Consent in the context of sex is often a legal matter in Illinois. According to the Illinois Criminal Code, the following individuals can not legally give consent to sexual activity:

  • Minors under the age of 17
  • Seventeen-year-olds to people in positions of authority over them
  • Mentally incapacitated individuals
  • Unconscious individuals
  • Severely intoxicated individuals.

Once there is probable cause that an individual engaged in sexual conduct with someone without their consent, that individual will likely be arrested.

What Happens When Arrested for a Sex Crime in Illinois?

After an arrest for a sex crime, the defendant will be taken to the station to begin what is potentially a long journey through the criminal justice system. The sooner this individual hires a defense lawyer, the better.


Processing is the first step once a defendant is at the police station. Since most sex crimes in Illinois are felonies, a record of a felony arrest will be made. It is important to note that arrest charges often vary from the final charges brought by the prosecutor.

Jail and Court

The defendant will be held in jail until their initial hearing/arraignment, during which they will learn of the official charges, enter a plea, and seek bail. Having a sex crimes defense attorney at this stage is often crucial to getting released on a reasonable bond before trial.

Plea Bargaining

Typically, the prosecutor will approach the defense with a plea deal, the purpose of which is to save the state attorney’s time and money. The benefit of taking a plea is receiving a reduced charge and sentence. However, for defendants who are not guilty, a plea to a sex crime is often too much to bear.

Discovery and Pre-Trial

If plea negotiations fail, the state and the defense will conduct investigations and engage in discovery to flush out the pertinent facts of the case. Witnesses will be contacted, and evidence will be analyzed. Additionally, various pre-trial motions will also be filed, such as motions to suppress evidence and motions to exclude witnesses.

Experienced sex crime defense lawyers use the services of adept criminal investigators to investigate every aspect of the incident in question. The information they uncover during the course of their investigations is vital to the crafting of an effective defense.


Leading up to trial, the evidence uncovered during discovery may lead the state to offer a better plea deal or even drop the charges. However, if there are no material changes in the situation, the case will go to trial. After the jury is impaneled, the trial will begin and may last anywhere from a few days to a few months, depending on the issues involved.


The defendant is looking at a non-negotiated sentence upon being convicted or a complete exoneration if acquitted. Depending on the charge and the existence of aggravating factors — such as bodily harm, age of the victim, or presence of a weapon — a conviction of a sex crime could lead to decades or even life behind bars. A criminal record with a history of sex crime convictions can lead to harsher treatment, as can aggravating factors. Conviction of a felony in Illinois generally results in prison time in one of the state’s many penitentiaries. Convicted defendants also face fines of up to $25,000 per conviction.

Sex Offender Registry

A conviction of a sex crime requires the convicted defendant to register with the Illinois Sex Offender Registry, which acts as a type of civil punishment. Registration must occur after sentencing within three days. Once a part of the registry, convicted individuals find it nearly impossible to exist normally in society.

Once released from prison and on the registry, a registered individual must comply with various conditions, such as:

  • Providing authorities with a current address and address changes
  • Providing authorities with all personal means of communication, including email, telephone, and chat room identities
  • Informing neighbors of sex offender status.

The length of time a person must remain on the registry depends on whether they have been designated as a sexual predator. The sexual predator designation requires a lifetime registration with the registry. The sexual offender designation, on the other hand, leads to a ten-year registration period. Failing to register as a sex offender is a Class 3 felony. A conviction can lead to two to five years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

Collateral Consequences

Aside from the consequences that come with having to register as a sex offender, convicted individuals face various collateral consequences that make life even harder. Having a felony criminal record, for example, will lead to the restriction or outright revocation of various rights, such as:

  • The right to bear arms
  • The right to vote in federal, state, and local elections
  • The right to international travel
  • The right to serve on a jury
  • Parental rights.

A felony record can also make finding employment difficult. Many jobs and careers do not permit felons as employees. Those that do typically only do so on paper. In other words, they may claim to hire felons, but when it comes down to it, they usually pass them by.

Contact an Experienced Sex Crime Charge Defense Attorney Today

If you are facing sex crime charges, it is crucial that you take the necessary steps to protect your future. Start by allowing an experienced sex crime charge defense attorney from Wolfe & Stec to review your case and discuss your defense options with you. Call 630-305-0222 for a consultation today!

Attorney Marc Wolfe

Marc Wolfe has been representing clients in criminal matters in Chicago and the entire State of Illinois for over 30 years. Mr. Wolfe has tried over 300 cases to verdict and represents clients facing investigation or prosecution for a broad range of state and federal criminal offenses, including murder, embezzlement, sexual abuse, drugs, marijuana and white collar crimes. [ Attorney Bio ]