Illinois has enacted legislation that addresses the technological advances that society has made in regards to the Internet, electronic storage, and the easy dissemination of images. One area that has been specifically targeted for protection in Illinois children. The statute states:
“A person commits the offense of grooming when he or she knowingly uses a computer on-line service, Internet service, local bulletin board service, or any other device capable of electronic data storage or transmission to seduce, solicit, lure, or entice, or attempt to seduce, solicit, lure, or entice, a child, a child’s guardian, or another person believed by the person to be a child or a child’s guardian, to commit any sex offense as defined in Section 2 of the Sex Offender Registration Act or to otherwise engage in any unlawful sexual conduct with a child or with another person believed by the person to be a child.”
As a hypothetical explanation of the statute, imagine a person posting an ad on www.craigslist.org seeking an encounter with a person who is under the age of 18, whether they know the child is 18 or not, for the purposes of a sexual act. Alternatively, the law is applied to a person who posts the same ad on the same website soliciting the guardian of the child to allow them to meet the child for the purpose of a sexual act.
Grooming is considered a Class 4 felony. A class 4 felony is a “sentence of imprisonment shall…not less than one year and not more than 3 years.”
However, this sentence may be compounded if you travel to meet the child after posting a transmission that you know to be an effort to elicit a sexual act from a child. The statute clearly states, “A person commits the offense of traveling to meet a minor when he or she travels any distance either within this State, to this State, or from this State by any means, attempts to do so, or causes another to do so or attempt to do so for the purpose of engaging in any sex offense…with a child.”
Recently, a 22 year-old West Frankfort man was charged with grooming when he made sexual advances to a girl, he knew to be 14 at the time, through private messaging on Facebook. The police were able to collect all the pertinent electronic evidence and charged the man with this offence. If you find yourself being charged with this crime or any crime relating to a child it is in your best interest to contact a qualified Illinois Criminal Defense Attorney.