In Illinois, if a person is convicted as an adult or adjudicated delinquent as a minor of certain sex crimes, he or she will be required to register as a sex offender. This means that their photo, name, and address are placed on a published list of sex offenders in the state. In addition to making them a potential target for vigilante justice, being placed on the registry can have an impact on where someone can work or live. Depending on the nature of the offense, this can be a lifetime requirement. For more on the Sex Offender Registration Act in Illinois, please refer to 730 ILCS 150.
Some may believe that the life-long consequences of having to register as a sex offender is appropriate because of the severity of their crime and the need for increased safety to the general public. However, some people who have gone through treatment and have been rehabilitated argue that there should be a procedure for them to be removed from the registry and should not longer have to live with the stigma that comes along with it.
Under the current law in Illinois, if a person is on the registry for a crime which they committed as an adult, their only recourse for removal is if they were pardoned or found to have been wrongfully convicted for the crime that requires them to register.
However, because Illinois places a high priority on the rehabilitation of young offenders, if a person is on the registry because of a crime they committed as a juvenile, and they were adjudicated delinquent, they may file a petition to ask the court to be removed from the registry. If the underlying crime would be a felony if committed by an adult, the petitioner must wait 5 years from the time registration is required before filing to be removed. For misdemeanor offenses, the petitioner can file 2 years from the time registration is required.
After filing the petition, the court will set a date for a hearing to determine whether the person should be allowed to have their name removed from the registry. The person seeking removal from the registry has the burden of proving, by the preponderance of the evidence, that he or she poses no risk to the community and is not likely to reoffend.
At the hearing, the court will consider several statutory factors found in 730 ILCS 150/3-5 including;
It should be noted that it is nearly impossible for a licensed evaluator to assess someone as NO RISK, as the statute requires. This issue was discussed by the 3rd District Appellate Court in In re B.C., 2018 IL App (3d) 170025. The court found that the law does allow a petitioner to establish that it is “more probable than not” that he or she poses “no risk” to the community despite the fact that an evaluator may only be able to assess a personas being a “low risk” to the community. Despite this favorable decision, other District courts in Illinois have held that the stricter standard of “no risk” is appropriate. This means that being successful in a petition for termination of registration is not as easy as simply asking the court to be removed.
Being free from the burden of having to register as a sex offender can have major impact on a person’s freedoms for the remainder of their lives. If you or someone you know is currently required to register as a sex offender for a crime they committed when they were a juvenile, it may be possible to be removed from the juvenile sex offender registry. Speaking with an experienced attorney should be your first step to find out if you are eligible to petition for removal from the registry.