If you are a sexual predator or child sex offender, chances are you are restricted from being present or loitering in public parks. To do so can result in an arrest and subsequent charge and that means possible incarceration and/or fines.
At Dolci & Weiland, we believe in informing our clients of the charges against them so they are best prepared and understand how we advocate on their behalves. A charge of Child Sex Offender in a Public Park is a serious one that is accompanied by just as serious collateral consequences. Society does not look kindly on these types of allegations regardless of whether you are innocent or not. Our sex crimes attorneys provide a comprehensive defense because it is your constitutional right.
So, if you have been charged with the offense of Child Sex Offender in a Public Park, contact our sex crimes defense attorneys today. In the meantime, here is some information you should know about this specific crime.
How does Illinois define the crime of Child Sex Offender in a Public Park?
The offense known in Illinois as Child Sex Offender in a Public Park is governed by 720 ILCS 5/11-9.4-1. This statute states that:
(b) It is unlawful for a sexual predator or a child sex offender to knowingly be present in any public park building or on real property comprising any public park.
(c) It is unlawful for a sexual predator or a child sex offender to knowingly loiter on a public way within 500 feet of a public park building or real property comprising any public park. For the purposes of this subsection (c), the 500 feet distance shall be measured from the edge of the property comprising the public park building or the real property comprising the public park.
The keyword to keep in mind here is the word: knowingly. This refers to a requisite mental state that must be proven before a judge or jury can find you guilty of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.
For example, did you know you were in or near a park? If there is no indication that a park is nearby and you are new to the area, you may be able to show that you did not knowingly go to a public park or loiter on a public parkway. You may also lack the mental state necessary to commit this crime simply because you do not quite understand the scope and meaning of the term "public park" as the statute defines it. The term is broad and its meaning encompasses more than a neighborhood park easily identified as such by a swing or public benches.
Understanding the Meaning of a Public Park
According to the statute, a "public park" can mean any of the following so long as it is under the jurisdiction of Illinois or a local government:
- a park;
- a forest preserve;
- a bikeway;
- a trail; or
- a conservation area.
As one can see, a public park is much more than a neighborhood playground. It involves large swathes of land throughout Illinois.
Understanding the Mental State of "Knowingly"
A recent case from 2018 went to the Illinois Supreme Court: The People of the State of Illinois v. Marc A. Pepitone. In it, the defendant was found parked in a public park and subsequently charged and convicted under this statute. He admitted to being a child sex offender but said his registration requirement expired in 2010 and so he did not know this law still applied to him. That didn't matter because the law prohibits sex offenders of being present in a public park. In this case, the defendant was knowingly present in a public park and, thus, his conviction and sentence were affirmed by the Illinois Supreme Court.
Proving that one knowingly is present in or loitering in a park is the burden of the State. If the State argues you knew you were in a park because you were parked in front of a playground, then that may be enough to prove the mental state required to commit this crime.
But if there are only woods near you and no sign of a traditional park in the sense there are picnic tables, a pond, and geese, or a noticeable trail, then you may be able to successfully counter the State's argument. Much of it comes down to the facts and circumstances with the remainder coming down to how well your attorney can present your argument and persuade the judge and/or jury.
To Whom Does this Illinois Law Apply?
This law referred to as Child Sex Offender in a Public Park applies to:
- anyone ever convicted of a sex offense against a minor;
- anyone classified by the State of Illinois to be a sexual predator (including all sex offense convictions and not just those against minors); and
- anyone classified by any other state to be a sexual predator.
What are the penalties for a conviction of a Child Sex Offender in a Public Park?
A person convicted of this crime is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor or Class 4 felony.
- A Class A misdemeanor is filed against a person's first offense and a conviction results in jail of up to one year and a fine of up to $2,500.
- A Class 4 felony is filed against a person's second or subsequent offense and a conviction results in prison of one to three years and a fine of up to $25,000.
Contact an Experienced Chicago Sex Crime Attorney Today
If you have been charged with the offense known as a Child Sex Offender in a Public Park, then the charge is serious and defending it can be difficult. You need an experienced and resourceful criminal defense attorney in Chicago or Dupage County to help you.
At Dolci & Weiland, we believe in the right to the best defense, and our attorneys are skilled and well-equipped to provide the same. Contact us today to discuss your case and move forward with your defense. Fill out an online case evaluation form or call the office nearest to you – for our DuPage office, call (630) 261-9098 or for our Chicago location, call (312) 238-9007.