Solicitation of a Sexual Act
Sexual offenses, especially those related to children have received a lot of attention in the media recently. A large number of women and even men have come forward alleging that they were made indecent sexual proposals in exchange for money or as a way to advance their careers. People have also come forward with claims that they were made such offers while they were under aged.
The State of Illinois has had strict regulations to control such solicitation and the state department is quite active in apprehending sexual predators to keep them off the streets. However, the authorities sometimes end up arresting innocent people who get accused of indecent conduct even if they haven’t done anything wrong.State Legislation
Solicitation of a sexual act is covered under 720 ILCS 5/11-14. The law states that a person commits the offense of solicitation of a sexual act when he or she offers another person, who is not his or her spouse, any money, property, token, object or anything of value to perform either of the following acts.
- An act of sexual penetration as defined in the statute.
- Touching or fondling the sex organs of the person for the purpose of sexual stimulation or gratification.
The law also covers indecent solicitation of a child. A person who is 17 years or older commits this offense when he or she knowingly solicits a child, or a person whom he believes to be a child, to perform an act of sexual penetration or sexual conduct as defined in the legislation.
A person also commits the offense of indecent solicitation of a child if he or she knowingly discusses an act of sexual conduct or penetration with a child, or a person he or she believes to be a child, by means of the internet.Punishments
Solicitation of a sexual act is a Class A misdemeanor which is punishable by up to one year in prison.
Solicitation of a sexual act from a person who is under 18 years old but over 13 years or has a severe intellectual disability is a Class 4 felony if committed by a person who is also under 18 years old while it is a Class 1 felony if committed by an adult.
Solicitation of a sexual act from a child who is under 13 years old is a Class 2 felony if the offense is committed by a person under 18 years old and a Class X felony when committed by an adult.Considerations
Solicitation of a sexual act in exchange for anything of value is a similar offense to prostitution. The difference is that the person who gets charged is the one who is trying gain sexual gratification in exchange for something of value.
Just as a prostitute can be charged even if no sexual act has taken place, the person accused of solicitation can be convicted even if no sexual act has occurred. The mere act of asking for sex can be charged as an offense.Examples and Court Cases
Solicitation of a sex act involving children is taken very seriously. A person can be charged even if he or she hasn’t actually communicated with a minor but solicited sex from someone who they thought was a minor.
A man from Lockport was recently charged with soliciting sex from a minor and indecent solicitation of sexual criminal abuse.
Evan Gutowski, 21, was arrested and jailed after he allegedly solicited a person online who he thought was a young girl. He travelled to meet with the supposed juvenile at a public park to perform the sex act.
Gutowski had allegedly solicited a 10 year old female online persona to perform a sex act after meeting the person through a mobile app.
In another case a man wanted for a number of sexual felonies related to children was found dead in a field from what appeared to be self-inflicted gunshot wounds.
Robert L James 63, who was a retired teacher, was wanted on charges of child porn, indecent solicitation of a child and sexual exploitation of a child. Police claimed that he had pornographic images of a child who was younger than 13 before soliciting a sex act from that child.
The man had been arrested previously in 2016 and released on bail. A warrant had been issued for his arrest after he missed a court hearing. Many solicitation cases involve sting operations where undercover officers from the law enforcement agencies pretend to be a prostitutes or minors.
Consider a case where officers posted a vague ad on craigslist offering ‘sensuous massages’. A college student contacted the service and agreed to meet up at a motel. When the student arrived at the place he was arrested by the police and charged with soliciting indecent sexual act.
The defense team argued that the police used entrapment to lure the defendant. They also argued that the defendant went to the motel to receive a “sensuous massage” and never actually solicited any sexual acts.
The judge noted that the accused did not initiate the solicitation of the sexual act as he merely responded to the advertisement. The case was dismissed and the defendant released.Possible Legal Defenses
Solicitation of a sexual act is a broad term with many interpretations. Unless there is a written record of the conversation, such as text messages or chat logs, the case depends on witness testimony.
One defense available to the accused is that they never actually solicited for sex and the accuser or police officer simply misunderstood their statement. This defense is quite tricky and only a capable defense attorney can execute it perfectly.
Another defense is to argue entrapment by the law enforcing agencies. The defense provides protection against law enforcement’s use of aggressive or reprehensible tactics to influence criminal behavior from a defendant. For example, if an undercover agent uses excessively seductive behavior that causes the defendant to solicit sex in exchange for money, the defense may be able to employ this tactic.
When charged with soliciting sex from a minor, a defendant may also be able to argue that he or she was not aware of the age of the person. In some cases, teens look older than their age. If the defendant made an effort to find out the age or he/she was informed that the person is over 18, then this defense can be used in court.