If you have been convicted of a sex crime in Illinois and are listed on the state's sex offender registry, your livelihood is restricted in many ways. The label of a sex offender dictates when you can be around children, how close you can live to a school and comes with many other embarrassing penalties. Illinois law further prohibits some sex offenders from loitering in or around any of the state's public parks. If you have been charged with such a crime, the criminal defense attorneys at Dolci & Weiland can help.
Sex Offenders in Parks Law
In Illinois, statute 720 ILCS 5/11-9.4 prohibits a sexual predator or child sex offender from loitering in or near a public park. Illinois law defines loitering as "standing, sitting idly, whether or not the person is in a vehicle or remaining in or around public park property." The statute further defines a "public park" as a park, forest preserve, bikeway, trail, or conservation area. Loitering isn't the only act prohibited to these sex offenders; simply being present in a public park as a sexual predator or child sex offender is a crime.
For purposes of this statute, a sexual predator is a person who was convicted of any of a number of offenses listed in the Illinois Sex Offender Registration Act. These offenses can include:
- Juvenile prostitution: patronizing a minor engaged in prostitution
- Promoting juvenile prostitution: profiting from or otherwise advancing prostitution by a minor
- Sexual Exploitation of a child: showing one's genitalia to a child or coercing the child to remove his or her clothing for sexual arousal
- Child pornography: filming, watching, or distributing pornography featuring children, whether real or simulated
- Criminal sexual assault: committing a sexual act by use of force, on someone who is without the ability to understand/give consent, or is a family member under the age of 18
- Kidnapping a person under the age of 18
- Child abduction
In contrast to a sexual predator, a child sex offender is a person who has been convicted of an offense involving a child, including:
- Child abduction
- Sexual exploitation of a child
- Sexual relations with a child family member
- Juvenile prostitution
- Public indecency at a school
As shown above, a child sex offender can also be considered a sexual predator, and vice versa.
This law doesn't simply prohibit a sexual predator or child sex offender from entering the enclosed area of a park; it bans these individuals from any property encompassing the park whatsoever. The law further prohibits sexual predators and child sex offenders from loitering within 500 feet of public park property.
Potential Penalties for a Sexual Predator or Child Sex Offender Loitering in a Public Park
A person who has been deemed a sexual predator or child sex offender and has been charged with loitering in a public park for the first time faces a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a penalty of up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. Illinois legislation is even tougher for second offenders; subsequent offenses are Class 4 felonies and carry a prison sentence between one and three years.
Those who are classified as sexual predators or child sex offenders are also added to the Illinois sex offender registry, which is an online database available to alert the public of offenders and their whereabouts. The Legislature's purpose in creating the online database is to "facilitate access to publicly available information about persons convicted of sex offenses . . . not to warn about any specific individuals."
While the registry isn't meant to single out specific offenders, the punishments you may face for an offense of loitering in a public park doesn't get past the registry's attention; in addition to the criminal punishments that you can face following the conviction of loitering in or near a public park as a child sex offender or sexual predator, the sex offender registry will also be updated to reflect the offense, making your conviction public knowledge to anyone who views the registry.
Facing a Charge of Loitering in a Public Park? We Can Help
If you are on Illinois' Sex Offender Registry as a sexual predator or child sex offender and have been charged with loitering in or near a public park, it's important to obtain legal representation from a competent criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The team of attorneys who comprise Dolci & Weiland's criminal division is dedicated to helping clients protect their rights and defend against the charges they face.
Don't wait until it is too late to get the legal assistance you deserve; to schedule an appointment to speak with an attorney, fill out an online case evaluation form or call the office nearest to you today--for our DuPage office, call (630) 261-9098, or for our Chicago location, contact (312) 238-9007.