A sex crime is a crime involving any form of sexual misconduct, sexual assault, unlawful sexual behavior, or illegal pornography. The commission of a sex crime designates the person a "sex offender." In Illinois, it is possible to be labeled a sex offender if you are found guilty of anything from statutory rape (having sex with someone under the age of consent, even if you are also under the age of consent), to sexual assault, to initiating sexual communication with a minor via the internet.
Sex crime charges are not to be taken lightly. They arguably carry the greatest "stigma" in our society, and can ruin reputations and employment opportunities for life. Especially if you are convicted of a sex crime the requires you to register in Illinois’s online public sex offender registry.
How Does Sex Offender Registration Work in Illinois?
In Illinois, there are over 23,000 registered sex offenders, who are required to provide local law enforcement with updated vehicle, employment, and school information, as well as fingerprints, a current photo, and DNA.
Not all sex crimes require registration in Illinois. Minor sex crimes such as statutory rape or indecent exposure do not require registration while major ones such as child pornography and criminal sexual assault do. Most sex offenders in Illinois are required to register annually for a ten year period. Those classified as a Sexually Dangerous or Sexually Violent person must register every 90 days for life, while those classified as a sexually predator must register annually for life.
Illinois might be unique in requiring that a sex offenders to pay $100 the very first time they register and $100 each time the offender re-registers. Illinois also has several strict prohibitions on what a sex offender can or cannot do once they are released from custody, one of which is that a sex offender is prohibited from accessing any social networking sites, such as Facebook, while on probation, parole, or mandatory supervised release.
How Can I Be Excluded from the Public Database?
Illinois allows juvenile offenders to petition to be removed from the registry. If the court finds that the juvenile offender poses no risk to the community, then the offender’s duty to register is terminated and his or her name will be taken off the registry. Illinois does not seem to offer the same option to those who were convicted of a sex crime as an adult.
Can I Get My Criminal Records Erased?
Depending on whether or not the offender meets the state’s necessary criteria, the offender may be able to seal his or her criminal record, also known as expungement. Illinois is rather liberal in its expungement criteria. Illinois permits sex offenders to expunge records of minor sex crimes two years after probation has successfully ended, and more serious crimes five years after probation. Once the record is expunged, that prevents everyone, other than law enforcement, from seeing the offender’s past criminal history.
Do I Need an Attorney?
If you have been charged with a crime it is important that you seek legal assistance immediately. An experienced criminal defense lawyer will be able to defend you in court and give you the best chance of being found not guilty. If you have already been convicted and have served your time for a minor sex crime and no longer wish for that information to show up on your record, you should try to see if you qualify for removal from the public registry and should also go to an expungement lawyer to start the process of sealing your criminal record.