In 1996, a database was created by the FBI to keep tabs on convicted sex offenders. Registration into this database consisted of individuals who had been convicted of:
- Predatory sexual actions
- Sexual offense against children and minors
- Sexually violent acts
The database was thus named the sex offender registry, and its purpose was to monitor sex offenders to prevent them from hurting other people – especially children.
Over time, the sex offender registry has become much more than just a tracking and monitoring tool. By making information about criminal sex offenders accessible to the public, we have created numerous other consequences.
Many argue that these consequences are justified for upholding public safety. After all, the sex offender had it coming. He or she should have thought about his or her actions before committing the crime that hurt someone’s son or daughter, and now they’re paying the price.
However, not all people on the list are actually guilty of sex crimes, yet they have to live with the consequences of being labeled as a child molester or rapist.
This was the case for one woman in Illinois who spent more than four months in prison for being on the sex offender registry despite the fact that her was not sex-related – and was committed close to two decades ago!
When Non-Sex Offenses Land Someone in Illinois on the Registry
Legal troubles for this woman began in 2000 when she was caught trying to kidnap a baby out of a hospital to replace one she had lost when she suffered a miscarriage.
A horrible act, to be sure, but she was 18 at the time, and grieving. Still, her trial didn’t last long. She was found guilty of aggravated kidnapping and sentenced to 13 years imprisonment.
Against the protests of her attorney, she was also designated as a child sex offender during her sentencing. Even though her crimes were non-sexual, kidnapping is one of the offenses that may put you on the Illinois sex offender registry.
In 2011, the woman tried to appeal her sex offender status, requesting that she be classified as a violent offender against the youth instead. Her motion, which was handwritten, explained that being labeled as a sex offender had disrupted her employment. Unfortunately, her motion was stricken, with a former judge stating that the court did not have jurisdiction.
Fast forward to 2016. The woman was out of prison, but her woes were far from over.
This time, she was trying to get her children registered at a daycare center. As per the guidelines set out in the Illinois sex offender act, people who are on the list shouldn’t be on or near school property. Since the woman was on the sex offender registry, the daycare staff contacted the police and reported that she had been on the school grounds.
New charges were subsequently launched against her. She was apprehended in September 2018 and charged with, among other things, being in a school zone.
Thankfully, when her case was finally heard, the charges leveled against her in connection with the visit to the daycare were dropped. However, that came after she had to spend four months in jail because she couldn’t afford to pay a $150,000 bond.
Getting Off the Illinois Sex Offender Registry
Unfortunately, like the Illinois woman above, once you are on the sex offender registry, the chances of getting off are small, and the process is complicated. Your best chance at overcoming this is to enlist the help of an experienced attorney who knows how to file sex offender petitions and win.
Even then, there are some things you need to know:
- People who were tried and convicted as adults and had to register as sex offenders in Illinois are ineligible to petition an Illinois court asking to be removed from the state sex offender registry.
- Registered sex offenders who were adjudicated (i.e., tried) and found delinquent as minors in Illinois juvenile courts may file petitions to have their names withdrawn from the state offender registry. They, however, must demonstrate that they are no longer a safety risk to the community.
While examining the offender’s risk to the community, the court will consider several factors, including:
- Whether the offender has a history of committing sexual offenses
- What rehabilitative steps the offender has taken
- Is the offender mentally competent?
- The offender’s social, mental, educational, and physical history
- The sex offender’s age when they committed the sex crime that got them registered as sex offenders
- The outcome of the sex offender’s risk assessment, performed by a licensed evaluator
- Any other additional factors the court deems relevant
A petition to be removed from the Illinois sex offender registry may also be made if you are pardoned or found to have been wrongfully convicted for the crime that had you register as a sex offender.
Not quite sure where you stand? Consult with a lawyer.
If there’s even a small chance of getting your name removed from the registry, it’s worth it.
About the Author:
Andrew M. Weisberg is a former felony prosecutor who now serves as a defense attorney in the greater Chicago area. He has extensive experience in handling all types of criminal cases, from sex offenses and domestic violence to retail theft-related crimes, murder, and drug crimes.