You have been charged with criminal sexual assault of a minor child. After confiscating your computer, the state found your internet research on child pornography along with some stories you wrote. Can the state use these searches and stories to convict you?

Quite possibly. But like so much of law, it depends on the judge. The court could find your writings and/or your internet searches are relevant to show your intent to commit the crime.

Under the Illinois Rules of Evidence, your past acts are generally not admissible to prove you have bad character and thus, are more likely to commit a crime. However, such evidence can be used to show intent as well as motive, opportunity, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity or absence of mistake or accident. If your writings fall within one of those categories, they could be admitted.

In People v. Ressa, the defendant was convicted of aggravated criminal sexual abuse and child abduction. Both offenses require the state to prove intent. The trial court admitted into evidence “defendant’s delusional and fantastical writings, online searches relating to well-known cases involving children who had been murdered and sexually molested, and other items relating to children.” The court said this evidence was relevant to show whether the defendant touched the children for purposes of sexual gratification.

If you are charged with sexual assault or a similar crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. As the court above noted, the trial judge must decide whether to admit such evidence on a case-by-case basis. An experienced attorney may be able to persuade the court that such evidence should be kept out at trial.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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