Governor Bruce Rauner signed a bill into law that removes the statute of limitations for child sex crimes in Illinois, according to a press release from the Office of the Illinois Attorney General.
Sponsored by State Senator Scott Bennett and State Representative Michelle Mussman, Public Act 100-0080 changes the Illinois Criminal Code of 2012 to remove the statute of limitations for child victims of sex crimes. The new law applies to all future child sex crimes and any presently unexpired child sex crimes.
So long as the victim was under 18 years of age at the time of the offense, then the statute of limitations disappears for:
- Criminal sexual abuse,
- Criminal sexual assault,
- Aggravated criminal sexual abuse,
- Aggravated criminal sexual assault and
- Predatory criminal sexual assault of a child.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan helped spur the charge to amend existing laws and remove the statutes of limitations for child sex crimes. As Madigan stated in the press release: “Sex crimes against children are a horribly tragic violation of trust that can take a lifetime to recover from. This new law will ensure that survivors are provided with the time they need to heal and seek justice.”
Before Public Act 100-0080, Illinois law placed a 20-year limit on the ability for child sex crime victims to report and prosecute. The clock started as soon as the victim reached 18 years of age. This limitation gained recent notoriety, after former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Dennis Hastert made several admissions. Hastert admitted to molesting several boys while serving as a high school wrestling coach in Illinois. But due to the statute of limitations, victims were unable to seek justice.
With passage of Public Act 100-0080, Illinois joins a growing number of U.S. states in addressing statutes of limitations for child sex crimes. As more and more child sex crime victims come forward, a trend seems to be emerging. The reporting process is extremely difficult. Child victims often face doubt or even ridicule when they alert authorities of potential sex crimes. In certain cases, the child victim represses memories of the sex crime as a defense mechanism. When those memories come flooding back, sometimes decades later, the deadline for reporting may have passed. That is why 36 states and the U.S. Government have eliminated statutes of limitations for some or all child sex crimes.
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No matter what the criminal offense, all criminal charges are serious. Without a sound strategy and an aggressive defense, you could miss out on your best chance for a positive outcome. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you understand the law and navigate toward an effective resolution.
Serving the counties of Dewitt, Ford, Livingston, Logan, McLean, Peoria, Tazewell, and Woodford, The Prior Law Firm is located in Bloomington, Illinois. Our attorneys are dedicated to the practice of Illinois criminal law. If you need legal advice concerning any criminal offense, please do not hesitate to contact us immediately.
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(image courtesy of Niklas Rhose)