Illinois Sex Offenders Must Disclose Internet IDsPublished: Dec 01, 2016, by in Criminal Defense, Legal Blog, Sex Crimes
Does the Illinois Sex Offender Registration Act violate the First Amendment right to free speech? The Illinois Supreme Court answered in the negative after considering the question in October of this year. This means that convicted sex offenders in Illinois still have to disclose all of their Internet accounts and usernames–from Facebook and Twitter to blogs and forums.
Sex Offenders Must Continue to Report their Online Accounts
The legal challenge to the Sex Offender Act came after an offender was arrested for failing to provide the authorities with his Facebook account information. With the assistance of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) , the offender argued that the internet disclosure provision of the Sex Offender Act was unconstitutional, and “imposes tremendous burdens on the right to free speech on the Internet,” according to Rebecca Glenberg, senior staff counsel for the ACLU of Illinois.
In their view, requiring sex offenders to provide the authorities with “every single website on which they post information — from comments on newspaper articles to prayer requests on religious websites,” does little to increase public safety. Instead, “it inhibits offenders’ ability to rehabilitate and lead a positive, productive life.”
The Illinois Supreme Court disagreed, stating that “the internet disclosure provision advances the substantial governmental interest of preventing sex offenses against children and protecting the public from the danger of recidivist sex offenders.” According to Judge Charles Freeman, who wrote for court’s opinion, the law is designed to not limit “more speech than necessary, or in other words, to lessen the number of unconstitutional applications.” For example, sex offenders don’t need to report whom they communicate with online.
The Government Can Limit Freedoms for the Sake of Public Health and Safety
In America, the government can limit constitutional freedoms–such as the right to free speech or the right to bear arms–when the regulation reasonably protects the health and safety of citizens. Courts must often balance people’s individual rights with the interests of the community.
The Illinois authorities have sided with the community in this case, but other states have ruled that similar internet disclosure laws were unconstitutional. These other states reasoned that requiring sex offenders to register their online accounts unduly interfered with their freedom of expression, while only marginally improving public safety because predators generally use private messaging–not forums or social media sites–to stalk their victims.
Illinois Sex Offenders Who Fail to Register Face Serious Penalties
According to 730 ILCS 150/3, a sex offender must provide the authorities with:
- Current photograph
- Current address
- Current place of employment
- Telephone number, including cell phone number
- Employer’s telephone number
- School attended
- All e-mail addresses, instant messaging identities, and chat room identities
- All Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) registered or used by the sex offender
- All blogs and other Internet sites maintained by the sex offender or to which the sex offender has uploaded any content or posted any messages
A failure to meet these requirements is considered a Class 3 felony, punishable by fines of up to $25,000 and 2 to 5 years in prison.
Call O’Meara Law Today
Following all the requirements of Illinois’ sex offender registration laws is a challenge — and it’s next to impossible to get removed from the registry if you’ve been convicted of a violent sex crime. For this reason, it’s essential that you fight your sex crimes charges from the very beginning. To learn more about how O’Meara law LLC can help, call us today at 312-909-0706 for a free and confidential consultation.