Health :: UK Gov. Blagojevich signs law to further protect children from sexual predators

Governor Rod R. Blagojevich signed a law that will increase protections for children against sexual predators, by making it a criminal offense for someone to intentionally lure a minor through electronic media, and classifying an individual as a sexual predator if they have been convicted of two or more offenses of luring a minor.

“As parents, we worry about what our children might be doing online. We worry about who they are talking to and who might be watching them,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “And as a parent, I am happy to sign this law, which gives law enforcement officials the tools they need to protect minors from predators who may be watching our children on the Internet. I would like to thank the sponsors for their work to keep our children safe.”

House Bill 1979, sponsored by State Representative Ruth Munson (R-Elgin) and State Senator John Millner (R-Bloomingdale), also strongly increases the penalties for luring a minor in Illinois.

HB 1979 establishes the offense of “luring a minor” for individuals over the age of 18 who attempts to persuade a child under the age of 15, via telephone, Internet or text messaging to leave the protection of his or her home and parents or guardians for the purpose of committing a misdemeanor or felony.

Penalties for luring a minor include:

When the offender is 21 or older: 1-3 years as a Class 4 felony, and requires a sex offender evaluation prior to sentencing; 2-5 years for a second offense, which makes it a Class 3 felony; and 4-15 years for third or subsequent offenses, which makes it a Class 1 felony.

When the offender is between the ages of 18 and 20: maximum 6 months as a Class B misdemeanor; 1-3 years for a second offense, which makes it a Class 4 felony; and 4-15 years for third or subsequent offenses, which makes it a Class 1 felony.

A second or subsequent offense requires an offender to register as a sexual predator.

If an offender has a prior conviction for a sex offense; 3-7 years for first offense, which constitutes a Class 2 felony; 4-15 years for a second offense, which constitutes a Class 1 felony; and 6-30 years for a third or subsequent offenses, which makes it a Class X felony.

“The Internet has made the impossible possible,” said Rep. Munson. “But it has also provided a window of opportunity for those who wish to harm our children. I would like to thank the Governor for signing this law and making it more difficult for sex offenders to climb through that window.”

In addition to protecting children from sexual predators, HB 1979 also protects consumers from individuals who pose as public officers or public employees to commit identity theft. The law defines public officers as individuals who are elected or appointed to carry out a public duty for the state, and a public employee as an individual who is paid by the state and performs official functions on behalf of the state of Illinois.

Individuals who impersonate public employees or public officials in order to steal someone’s identity may be charged with a Class 4 felony, which is punishable by up to three years in prison.

“Public officials and public employees can be especially vulnerable to identity theft due to the service they provide the state,” said Sen. Millner. “The Governor’s signature on this law will toughen penalties for those who attempt to take advantage of them.”

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