There were several changes to the Sex Offender Registration Act that became effective at the beginning of this year. There are also many new changes being proposed by the Illinois Legislature that may become effective soon if amendments to the Act are passed.
Changes This Year
The first big change to the Act is a retroactive registration requirement as a sex offender. Prior to this amendment, sex offenders were not required to register for offenses that occurred or were punished for prior to the Act becoming law. Now, those offenders who didn’t have to register as a sex offender will have to do so if they commit a new felony offense, even if it is not a sex crime. This is a harsh law in that it burdens an offender with the label of sex offender and all the requirements that go along with having to register and keep registration information current, even if no sex crime is committed.
This is a troubling trend in the realm of sex offender laws because it essentially punishes people for crimes they have already paid their debt to society for. The Constitution even speaks to this form of lawmaking as Ex-Post Facto legislation. It is unlawful to make something illegal that was legal at the time it was committed. Sex offender registration requirements are regulatory in nature, thus lawmakers have not been successfully challenged for passing these types of amendments.
Other changes that took effect this year are new requirements that sex offenders register with college campus authorities if the offender attends or is employed there, as well as some increased penalties for certain crimes committed by registered sex offenders.
The Illinois Legislature is proposing several more changes to the Act that would change the definition who and what triggers registration requirements, adds to the required information an offender must report, and increases registration periods.
The definition is expanded to include anyone found guilty of conspiring or soliciting qualifying offenses. Even offenders who are not convicted, but receive a deferred sentence for a qualifying offense will have to register. Registration will also be required for two or more convictions for luring a minor, unauthorized video recording and live transmission of a minor, and certain federal offenses.
In addition, sex offenders must declare temporary dwelling information, day labor employment information, telephone numbers the offender can be reached at, all nicknames or aliases the offender goes by, and registration information for every vehicle owned or operated by the offender.
The harshest proposed change is the increased registration requirements. Misdemeanor sex offenses would require registration for 15 years instead of 10. Other sex offenses, except those who are found to be sexually dangerous or are subject to the Child Murder and Violent Offender Against Youth Registration Act, would be required to register for 25 years instead of 10.
Further, anyone convicted for violating the Registration Act itself shall be required to register for life instead of just an extra 10 years.
The stakes are very high if you or someone you know is accused of a sex crime. Not only is freedom and civil liberties at risk, reputation and privacy are also in jeopardy because of these stringent laws. Contact a qualified Illinois Criminal Defense Attorney for immediate assistance.