Leaving Child in Custody of Sex Offender

New Illinois law criminalizes parents who leave children with sex offenders

by Sami Azhari on April 29, 2011

Illinois lawmakers made a new criminal offense concerning sex offenders in 2011. Effective on January 1, 2011, the new law prohibits parents from leaving their children unattended with a child sex offender.

The new law is found in the criminal code at 720 ILCS 5/12-21.6-5. The statute says that it is a Class A misdemeanor offense for a parent or guardian of a minor to leave that child in the custody or control of a child sex offender.

The penalties for violating this law include up to one year in the county jail and a fine of $2,500. A person who was found guilty of this offense should be eligible for court supervision, which is not a conviction and can be expunged.

It appears that this law will be difficult to enforce because it regulates conduct that occurs in the privacy of people’s homes. In most cases, an offense under this statutory section would not have a third-party witness. Rather, each offense would involve family or household members who are unlikely to want to testify against each other.

Sex offenders are a preferred target of state lawmakers when the time comes to pass laws every year. These laws make it more and more difficult for people who are sex offenders to reintegrate into society and become productive citizens.

Many state lawmakers want to be able to say during election campaigns that they were tough on sex offenders. And so, everyone is looking for a new law that they can put their name on.

What most people do not want to admit is that sex offenders continue to live their lives and become involved in relationships. The people with whom sex offenders are in a relationship most often are informed of the fact that they are registered sex offenders. These people choose to be in these relationships. It is unlikely that this law will deter them from sharing child care duties with their partners because they trust and care for the sex offender.

This law is probably never going to be prosecuted. This crime probably takes place all the time, but no one is going to report it or be willing to testify.

Note that the law does not apply if the child sex offender was found guilty of criminal sexual abuse (consensual sex with a minor under 17 years of age).

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