Mahoney Logo
Close this search box.

Sexual Assault FAQs

Are you or a loved one a sexual assault survivor seeking justice?  Navigating the legal aspects of sexual assault can be overwhelming, especially while you or your loved one are still recovering. The Mahoney Law Firm answers your sexual assault questions with this comprehensive FAQ guide. Learn what counts as sexual assault, how to identify its different forms, and what legal action you can take in Illinois.

On this page
    Add a header to begin generating the table of contents

    Sexual assault is a serious crime affecting hundreds of thousands of people annually in the United States. Despite its prevalence, this crime is often surrounded by misconceptions and confusion, leaving many people with unanswered sexual assault questions.  

    Whether you’re searching for answers about a potential crime or want to learn more about supporting a victim of sexual assault, the Mahoney Law Firm is here to help. Learn about sexual assault in Illinois and discover your legal options. 

    Frequently Asked Questions About Sexual Assault

    At the Mahoney Law Firm, attorney Ryan Mahoney has compiled answers to the most common sexual assault FAQs.

    What is Considered Evidence of Sexual Assault?

    Common evidence in sexual assault cases includes:

    What Are the Three Basic Types of Sexual Assault?

    Sexual assault comes in many forms, but these are the three most prevalent types:

    What is the Most Common Defense Against Sexual Assault Charges?

    While there are many defenses to sexual abuse claims, the most common one is consent. A key element of any sexual assault case is that the sexual behavior must have occurred against the victim’s will. Often, the defense will claim that the victim willingly engaged in the activity.

    What is the Most Difficult Part to Prove in a Sexual Assault Case?

    Consent, or the lack thereof, can be difficult to prove in courts of law. Without evidence or witnesses, there is little prosecutors can do to prove that sexual conduct was non-consensual.

    What are the differences between the Three Levels of Sexual Assault in Illinois?

    There are three levels of criminal sexual assault in Illinois—criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual assault, and predatory criminal sexual assault of a child.

    The most basic criminal assault law applies to sexual penetration involving a minor or with the threat or use of force. 

    The second level of sexual assault covers aggravated sexual assault. This is sexual assault with certain aggravating factors. Those factors include bodily harm, use of a weapon, or non-consensual sexual penetration with a minor, elderly person, or disabled person. 

    A third level of sexual assault involves any sexual contact, no matter how slight, by someone over age 17 with a minor under age 13. In some cases, the perpetrator uses violence or a weapon.

    How Do You Defend a Sexual Assault Case?

    Defendants in sexual assault cases may claim several defenses in court. Some will claim the alleged victim consented, while others will try to discredit the victim and claim the accusations are false.

    Can Civil Sexual Assault Cases Be Settled out of Court?

    Yes, sexual assault cases can be settled out of court through a civil legal process. These settlements resolve the issue without going to trial.

    What is Beyond a Reasonable Doubt in a Sexual Assault Criminal Case?

    “Beyond a reasonable doubt” is a standard of proof used in criminal cases. In a sexual assault case, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the alleged sexual assault. 

    The standard is lower in civil lawsuits. At trial, the plaintiff in a civil case needs only show that the defendant committed the assault and caused harm to the plaintiff by a preponderance of the evidence.

    How Many Sexual Assault Cases End in Guilty Verdicts?

    According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, only around two-and-a-half percent of alleged sexual assaults result in a conviction.

    What Can a Sexual Assault Survivor Expect from a Court Case?

    Every sexual abuse case is unique. Participating in a court case can be emotionally difficult and traumatic for survivors, who may have to recount the assault in detail and face the accused in court.

    How Much Compensation Can a Sexual Assault Survivor Receive?

    Compensation is typically not awarded in a criminal case. 

    However, victims may bring a civil lawsuit against those responsible. Through a civil lawsuit, you can recover economic damages to compensate for the financial losses you have and will experience and non-economic damages to compensate for the trauma and life changes you have experienced. The amount will vary from case to case.

    Where Do Most Sexual Assaults Occur?

    Most sexual assaults happen in the home or another private setting.

    Of course, sexual assault can happen anywhere. For that reason, many people practice sexual assault safety while traveling to unfamiliar locations.

    What Does Sexual Assault Look Like?

    Sexual assault does not always involve physical force or violence. Some common examples of sexual assault actions may include:

    What Counts as Sexual Assault?

    While most Illinois criminal statutes require sexual penetration, sexual assault in the civil realm encompasses a range of non-consensual sexual behaviors and actions. The actions do not have to be physical, and they can include the following:

    How to Help a Sexual Assault Victim?

    There are several ways you can offer help and support to a sexual assault victim:

    1. Believe them.
    2. Avoid judging or blaming them for the assault.
    3. Encourage the victim to report the crime
    4. Guide them to useful resources, such as the National Sexual Assault Hotline.

    How to Cope with Sexual Assault?

    Coping with sexual assault can be an overwhelming experience. One of the most crucial steps is to seek emotional support, whether from friends, family, a counselor, or a support group for survivors of sexual assault.

    How to Report Sexual Assault?

    If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911. 

    There are a couple of options to report a sexual assault that has already occurred: 

    1. Call or chat with the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 (HOPE). 
    2. Call your local police department to report the crime.

    What is the Statute of Limitations for Sexual Assault?

    Illinois removed its 10-year statute of limitations for criminal sexual assault. This means victims can pursue criminal charges or civil litigation against their abuser no matter when the abuse occurred. 

    Illinois has no statute of limitations for civil sexual assault claims when the abuser is convicted of a Class X felony criminal sexual assault or Class 1 criminal sexual assault.

    If you are an adult who was sexually abused as a child, Illinois state law gives you 20 years from the date you turn 18 or, if you are legally disabled when you turn 18, until the removal of your disability to file your claim. You also have 20 years from the date of discovery of the abuse and the resulting injury.

    For related offenses, including sexual exploitation by a therapist, personal injury, abduction, and false imprisonment, you have two years from the date of the abuse to file a civil personal injury lawsuit.

    What are the Warning Signs of Sexual Assault?

    The most common warning signs include the following: 

    Common Misconceptions About Sexual Assault

    There are many misconceptions about sexual assault.

    These misconceptions are harmful to victims, society, and the legal system. They lead to discrimination and biases, making it more difficult for victims to see the justice they deserve. 

    Sexual Assault Only Happens to Women

    This is incorrect, as both men and women experience sexual assault. Around three percent of U.S. men have been sexual assault victims in their lifetimes.

    Most Sexual Assaults Happen Between Strangers

    This is inaccurate. The vast majority of sexual assaults occur between people who know each other, usually family or acquaintances.

    Only People Who Dress Provocatively Experience Sexual Assault

    Any person can be a victim of sexual assault. How a person dresses has nothing to do with whether or not someone assaults them. Predators assault anyone who appears to be vulnerable. 

    With education and awareness, everyone can provide a more supportive environment for a survivor of sexual assault.

    Legal Ramifications of Sexual Assault

    The jurisdiction, the defendant’s criminal history, and the severity of the offense will play a role in the legal ramifications. However, the consequences can include the following: 

    • Imprisonment
    • Fines
    • Probation
    • Sex offender registration
    • Civil lawsuits
    Image of a justice scale

    Let the Mahoney Law Group Handle Your Sexual Assault Case

    Understanding sexual assault from a legal perspective helps support survivors and hold perpetrators accountable for their actions. 

    If you or someone you know has questions or concerns about sexual assault, don’t hesitate to seek help. Contact the Mahoney Law Group today to receive the support and resources you need. Remember, you are not alone, and there is help available. Let’s work together to support survivors and end sexual assault.