If you are a registered sex offender in Illinois, then you know there are multiple conditions and restrictions you must obey in order to be in compliance. Sometimes, though, you simply make a mistake. The restrictions placed on you are many, and you may forget them or not quite understand them. And sometimes, this can lead to a charge, like the offense known in Illinois as the Presence of a Child Sex Offender in a School Zone.
At Dolci & Weiland, we are committed to our clients' defense. Sex crimes are especially problematic because the consequences of a conviction can be extreme. Society tries to place sex offenders at the bottom, but we know the law allows you the right to defend yourself, and so we provide that defense. Contact our office today to learn more. In the meantime, here's what you should know about the Presence of a Child Sex Offender in a School Zone.
Understanding What the Offense of Presence of a Child Sex Offender in a School Zone Involves in Illinois
The offense known as the Presence of a Child Sex Offender in a School Zone is controlled by 720 ILCS 5/11-9.3. The code states that child sex offenders are prohibited from:
- being present within a school zone; and
- approaching, contacting, residing with, or communicating with a child within certain places, like a school zone.
A sex offender violates this law when he or she knowingly:
- is present in any school building, on real property comprising of a school, or in any conveyance owned, leased, or contracted by a school;
- is present within 100 feet of a site posted as a pick-up or discharge stop for school children under the age of 18;
- is present in any public park building, a playground or recreation area within any publicly accessible privately owned building when persons under the age of 18 are present and approaches, contacts, or communicates with a child;
- loiters within 500 feet of a school building or real property comprising of a school while persons under the age of 18 are present;
- loiters within 500 feet of a public park or property comprising a public park while persons under the age of 18 are present and approaches, contacts, or communicates with a child;
- resides within 500 feet of a playground, childcare institution, daycare center, or another institution or agency that cares for persons under the age of 18 at any time;
- resides within 500 feet of the victim of the child sex offense;
- uses the internet or another digital device to communicate with a person under the age of 18 or whom he believes to be under the age of 18;
- operates, manages, is employed by, or volunteers with any agency or company providing programs or other services to persons under the age of 18;
- participates in a holiday event involving persons under the age of 18 (e.g., dressing up as Santa);
- operates, manages, is employed by, or is associated with a county fair when persons under the age of 18 are present;
- leases or rents a home after January 1, 2009, where persons under the age of 18 also reside;
- offers programs to persons under the age of 18 in his or her residence or another facility;
- operates a vehicle for the purpose of retail (e.g., an ice cream truck) or a vehicle authorized for as an emergency or rescue vehicle.
That is a long list and, thus, a lot to remember. The statute is very specific, but the keyword is "knowingly." You must have known – been fully aware of – what you were doing.
Consequences of an Illinois Conviction of Presence of a Child Sex Offender in a School Zone
If you are found guilty of committing any of the above-listed acts, the consequences are dire. This offense is considered a Class 4 felony. That means you could face one to three years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000
Defenses to an Illinois Charge of Presence of a Child Sex Offender in a School Zone
If you have been charged with the offense of Presence of a Child Sex Offender in a School Zone in Illinois, you may have a defense. As mentioned, you must have the requisite mental state for the crime, meaning you must have known or been aware of what you were doing. But there are other defenses, too, though the mental state is important because, without it, no crime was committed.
In this type of situation, what often happens, is a child sex offender – defined by the statute governing this offense (720 ILCS 5/11-9.3) – attends a function at his or her child's school, like:
(i) attending a conference at the school with school personnel to discuss the progress of his or her child academically or socially,
(ii) participating in child review conferences in which evaluation and placement decisions may be made with respect to his or her child regarding special education services, or
(iii) attending conferences to discuss other student issues concerning his or her child such as retention and promotion.
In order to have been on the property for the above reasons, you must have received permission from the superintendent or the school board (or the principal if it's a private school). If no prior permission was given, then you must have notified the school's principal of your presence.
Further, if the offense was the result of:
- the victim living within 500 feet of your residence, the restriction does not apply if the "victim" is 21 years old
The statute is long and complex. There may be other defenses, too, depending on your unique situation. The important thing to remember is this: you are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and this burden is the responsibility of the prosecutor. Your experienced Dolci & Weiland attorney will challenge the prosecutor each step of the way.
Retain a Presence of a Child Sex Offender Defense Attorney based in Chicago and Dupage County Today
If you are a sex offender and have been charged with an offense under the statute referring to the Presence of a Child Sex Offender, you need a strong, viable defense. At Dolci & Weiland, our sex crime defense attorneys in Chicago and Dupage County are experienced and insightful. We are here to make sure the law treats you fairly and to provide a comprehensive defense that results in the best outcome for you. Contact Dolci & Weiland today.