Limitations of Being a Sex Offender in Illinois

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Being convicted of a sex offense in Illinois can lead to severe consequences. A conviction often means registration as a sex offender, which can result in significant consequences to all aspects of a defendant’s life. Understanding the significant ramifications can help a person realize the stakes at risk.

Negative Social Stigma

Upon being charged with a sex crime, a defendant may face immediate negative social stigma, such as “sexual predator,” “sex offender” or “rapist.” Likewise, they may be considered a “felon,” which can result in negative consequences associated with employment. However, the label as a sex offender may have additional drawbacks.

Job Opportunities

If a sex offender is convicted of a felony, he or she will face the same limitations as individuals charged with other types of felonies. However, if he or she is convicted of a sex crime and has to be listed as a sex offender, he or she may face additional limitations. He or she may be unable to work around children, the elderly or the disabled. He or she may not be able to work in schools or within a certain number of feet from a school.

Neighborhood Restrictions

Additionally, sex offenders may be restricted in where and with whom they can live. They may be precluded from living in a house where there is a minor. They may be restricted from living near schools or children. Websites and apps may provide easy tools for parents to find sex offenders in their neighborhoods, which can result in public shaming or threats made to the sex offender.

Loss of Right to Access to Children

If the sex offender has children, his or her spouse or co-parent may use the conviction and label as a sex offender to deny access to the sex offender’s children. This may occur even when the sexual offense did not involve a child. Family law courts look at what is in the best interest of the child when making decisions regarding custody, visitation and other decisions related to children. The family court may consider any criminal conviction when making such decisions.

Problems with Sex Offender Registration

Little evidence exists to support the notion that sex offender registration reduces the commission of sex crimes or reduces the rate of recidivism. However, state lawmakers often impose the restrictions that correspond to sex offender registration on every person who is convicted of a sex crime. Many individuals who are listed as sex offenders may have committed a slight crime such as public urination or streaking but receive this label because they were near a park, school or other public place. Many sex offenders become part of the list because they had a momentary lapse in judgment and not because they are violent or sexual deviants.

Individuals who support blanket policies to list every individual who commits a crime considered a sex crime may not have the protection they seek by having the registration process in place. They may only see the label of a sex offender and view these individuals as one collective and defective group. They may be overly concerned about all individuals on this list, even though many would never re-offend and do not pose any threat to them or their families.

Individuals who are required to register as a sex offender often face punitive measures. They may be prevented from re-entering society due to the negative social stigma of being listed as a registered sex offender. Their housing options may become limited. They may lose access to their children. They may have limited opportunities or job prospects. The Illinois Supreme Court considers registration of sex offenders to be remedial in nature, but these consequences seldom lead to rehabilitation.

Other Problems Associated with Sex Offender Registration

Sex offender treatment may pose additional difficulties. While most members of society can support treatment for sex offenders, sex offender treatment may impose additional requirements on sex offenders. For example, some treatment providers may require that individuals submit to polygraph testing, which have long been banned from use in criminal courts. The Illinois Sex Offender Management Board also allows penile plethysmography, an invasive procedure that is not required for other types of offenders. Another problem is that judges who decide cases involving sex offenders may bring in their own bias, which can affect other rights of sex offenders.

Contact an Illinois Criminal Defense Lawyer for Assistance

If you are facing criminal charges for a sex crime, it is important to talk to a lawyer who is experienced in handling these types of cases.


Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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