Most criminal acts have significant legal consequences in an effort to prevent them from occurring in the first place. Although any crime is serious, those against children are punished severely throughout the United States, including Illinois. There are many different offenses that constitute a crime against a child, and it is important to understand what they are. Otherwise, you could be facing steep fines and a lengthy prison term. In some cases, you may unintentionally commit a criminal act without realizing it was illegal. In other scenarios, you could be wrongfully accused of a crime by your ex-spouse who is seeking revenge after your divorce. A skilled criminal defense attorney can help determine the best course of action for your situation based on the details of your charges.
Illinois Laws to Protect Minors
Under Illinois law, an individual can face harsh penalties for causing a significant risk of harm to children. While many of those accused are guilty of the crimes with which they are charged, some may be innocent. Here are several examples of crimes against minors and their corresponding punishments:
Child endangerment: The law defines child endangerment as causing or permitting the life or health of a child under the age of 18 to be endangered, or placing a child in a situation that endangers his or her life or health. This may include leaving a child in a vehicle or home unattended, driving while intoxicated with a minor in the car, and using drugs in front of a child. In Illinois, child endangerment is typically charged as a Class A misdemeanor in Illinois. Probation may be possible if the person convicted is the child’s parent. Two or more convictions are Class 3 felonies.
Child neglect and abandonment: As defined by law, neglect is the failure of a parent or a guardian to provide basic necessities, such as food, clothing, medical care, shelter, or adequate supervision for his or her child. Abandonment is physically leaving a child alone. Child neglect is usually charged as a misdemeanor, while abandonment may be a Class 4 felony. Subsequent offenses are Class 3 felonies.
Domestic violence: According to the Illinois Domestic Violence law, anyone who hits, kicks, chokes, harasses, threatens, or interferes with the personal liberty of a household or family member has broken the law. This type of crime can also include verbal abuse, or inflicting emotional or psychological damage to a child through yelling or berating comments. In Illinois, child abuse is automatically charged as aggravated battery, punishable as a Class X felony, with a possible 30-year prison sentence if convicted.
It is important to remember that any criminal defendant is innocent until proven guilty. In some instances, another party may falsely accuse you of a crime. Child or eyewitness testimonies may be challenged by cross-examination of trained professionals, such as child psychologists or social workers. Other potential defenses against the above crimes include illegal search and seizure if evidence was taken unlawfully.
Contact a Joliet Criminal Defense Lawyer
Crimes against minors are especially egregious in the eyes of the law. However, in some cases, the charges can be based on false allegations. If you or someone you know has been accused of any crime, you need a solid defense strategy to avoid a conviction. At McNamara Phelan McSteen, LLC, we understand how devastating an alleged offense against a child can be to your personal and professional reputation. Our diligent Will County assault defense attorneys will tirelessly advocate on your behalf to make sure you do not go to jail for a crime you did not commit. Call us today at 815-727-0100 to request a free consultation.