This means anyone younger than 17 years of age cannot lawfully consent to any type of sex act involving sexual conduct.
Sexual conduct is the touching of any sex organ of another.
Charges can range from fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct all the way up to an automatic felony if it’s proven there was sexual penetration.
It could mean jail time, it could mean having to register as a sex offender for 10 years.
Such sexual activity is a crime for which both could be prosecuted, if there was mutual sexual conduct because the “age of consent” has not been reached.
Prosecution for the examples cited above are rare, but they illustrate the nature of Illinois’ age of consent law.
“If parents know what the law is, at least they’ve got that leg to stand on,” said Nguyen.
Under Illinois law, the age of consent for any type of sexual activity is, typically, 17 years.
At this age, “consent” is a legal term, not a factual term.Emotional damage aside, there are a lot of illegal things happening there, starting with the teenage girl.“She could possibly get charged with distributing it,” said Miller, who says the way the law is currently written, even though it is a picture of herself, it is still child pornography and she is still distributing it.“And the boyfriend would not only be in possession of child pornography, but if he sends it out to his friends, he would then also be distributing it,” said Miller, who goes on to say that the friends who receive it could potentially also be charged with possession of child pornography if it’s found on their devices.Warning Local law enforcement officials know that for every one case of teens illegally “dating” that gets to them, there are exponentially more they won’t see.“But we’re getting into the prom season, and we just want people to be aware because there are a lot of potential issues there,” said Glander, “You could have a 10th grader who isn’t 16 yet dating a senior who is 17 or 18.But the eyes of law enforcement officials do not see those shades of gray quite as well; the law is black and white.And when those laws are broken — even unknowingly — it stops becoming a parental decision and starts becoming a legal matter. The state has defined an appropriate age of consent, and under Minnesota statute, people cannot have any type of sexual contact with a child under the age of 16 if they are more than 24 months older than them.“Sexual contact is also defined as breasts and inner thigh areas,” said Becker County Investigator Kathy Nguyen, who says the level of charges is determined by how far those teens go.If they are 17 or younger, he says there is a little more leeway for the court and the prosecutor to try to resolve the matter without it being something that sticks on the teen’s record forever — something like having to register as a predatory offender.That is one, long-lasting possibility that can come back to haunt a young person for years, including not being able to live on a college campus, getting certain jobs and public shame.Proof comes in the form of pregnancies, medical issues and digital communications that go public.“Most of the time we question them and they admit it, but they think, ‘we’re both under 18, it’s consensual, how can we get in trouble for this? Often parents are under the same, misinformed impression.“The parents (of the younger teen) will be OK with it and think, ‘ah, he’s a nice guy’, and we’re not saying he isn’t nice,” said Glander, “but it doesn’t matter — it’s their age and activity that’s the problem.”Once the investigation is complete, the case is sent over to the county attorney’s office for review. Consequences Assistant Becker County Attorney Kevin Miller says when cases like this come across his desk, his decision to prosecute is typically already determined by the statute.“If there’s a crime broken there, you have to end up quite frequently charging it out,” said Miller, who does say every case is different, and therefore which punishments are sought can vary.If the person being charged is an adult, they may be harsher. -- Two northwestern Minnesota teenagers from Becker County -- considered juveniles -- have recently been charged with felony crimes that not all teens or their parents even know about.It’s having sexual relations when there is too big of an age gap.