Do Illinois Sex Offender Laws Violate Citizen Rights?

Illinois has a series of statutes that force convicted sex offenders to register and prohibit them from certain activities and visiting some places.

Now a group of sex offenders is challenging these laws accusing them of being too vague and indiscriminate.

The Sun-Times reported how earlier this year, five sex offenders filed a lawsuit requesting a judge to halt the enforcement of Illinois’ sex offender registration statutes.

Questions about Illinois sex offender laws

Questions about Illinois sex offender laws

Four Illinois residents and one former resident filed the lawsuit. It names Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Leo Schmitz, director of the Illinois State Police, as defendants.

The sex offenders claim several Illinois sex offender registry statutes are overly vague and are violations of their constitutional rights. The suit states:

“The vague prohibitions set forth in these statutes unconstitutionally interfere with the Plaintiffs’ fundamental rights, including their right to engage in free speech, their right to practice their religions, and their right to organize their family affairs.”

One of the plaintiffs claimed he can’t play golf because he fears he will be charged with a crime when he sets foot on a golf course, a place where children may be present. The suit stated:

“He was afraid he would be arrested or charged with a crime if he attempts to play golf at park-district owned facilities, even when no children are present.”

The lawsuit stated none of the five sex offenders re-offended since their convictions.

There is a real concern that Illinois’ laws concerning sex offenders are too wide and vague.

The law puts schools and playgrounds are off-limits. This is in line with statutes in many other states.

However, any facility providing programs or services for minors is also off-limits to sex offenders. The five former offenders argue this rule prevents them properly raise their children.  It can encompass churches, recreational centers or other public spaces.

According to the Illinois State Police website, someone on the sex offenders register can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor in public park buildings or on property comprising any public park. A public park includes a park, forest preserve, or conservation area run the state or unit of local government.

There are hundreds of parks in Chicago. This law appears to be very wide and vague, making for an uncertain climate for those on the registry.

The plaintiffs want the statutes replaced with less wide-ranging laws.

 

In recent years, laws targeting sex offenders have been challenged with some success. The U.S. Supreme Court recently struck down a law in North Carolina that made it an offense for sex offenders to use social media.

 

If you are facing a sex offense charge, this can have a very serious impact on your liberty, your family, your job prospects, and your future. Call our Illinois criminal defense team today for a free consultation at (312) 229-0008.