Illinois Supreme Court Rules on Sex Offender Cases

Illinois Supreme Court Rules on Sex Offender CasesPeople convicted of a sex offense in Illinois often have restrictions placed on them even after they have finished prison time. As a registered sex offenders:

  • They must register with local law enforcement anytime they move.
  • They cannot reside or loiter within 500 feet of a school if convicted of a sexual offense with a child.
  • They must appear in an online database of offenders so residents are aware of them.

The restrictions placed on sex offenders create situations when law enforcement officials must determine whether the offender violated the law. The Illinois Supreme Court recently ruled on two such cases.

People v. Howard

A man registered as a child sex offender had been convicted of loitering in a school zone. According to the case description, the man had dropped off a friend at the school so she could deliver lunches to her grandchildren. While the man was sitting in his car outside the school, a passing police officer entered his license plate into the database, which showed the vehicle was registered to a child sex offender. Illinois law states that a child sex offender may not knowingly loiter within 500 feet of a school when children are present unless he or she is a parent or guardian of one of the children.

The defendant appealed the decision of the circuit and appellate courts, arguing that:

  • He was not loitering outside the school, but was waiting for the purpose of transporting his friend.
  • The law is too vague in its definition of loitering and how long the offender needs to be near the school to be in violation.

The Supreme Court upheld the lower courts’ decisions. It said a reasonable person can understand the meaning of the law, and the defendant’s actions were in violation of that law, regardless of his intent while idling outside the school.

People v. Pearse

The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the lower courts that convicted the defendant, a sex offender, of failing to reregister his permanent address with local law enforcement. Illinois law requires sex offenders to register when they take up temporary residence in a location for at least three days. The defendant had been admitted to a hospital, and had followed the law by registering with the law enforcement in the municipality the hospital was located in. After returning home from the hospital, he was charged with failing to reregister with local law enforcement at his permanent residence. 

The Supreme Court determined the law does not require offenders to re-establish their permanent residences. It said the defendant was required to inform law enforcement that he was temporarily leaving his residence, but law enforcement had not charged him with that violation.

Defense Against Sex Charges

Sex offenders have numerous restrictions placed on them that can follow them for the rest of their lives. If you have been charged with committing a sexual offense, contact a Naperville criminal defense attorney at Law Office of Glenn M. Sowa, LLC to schedule a consultation.