Jun 3

An Illinois judge sentenced a former high school teacher for grooming, according to an article by The Pantagraph. This teacher will spend 180 days in the McLean County Jail and also faces two and a half years of probation. 

This incident traces back to May 2019. That is when the teacher sent inappropriate comments to a 16-year-old via text message. The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services reported this incident to the LeRoy Police Department in September 2020. Law enforcement subsequently arrested the teacher in October 2020. 

At the conclusion of the criminal trial in March 2022, the teacher pleaded guilty to grooming. Then a judge issued formal punishment during a sentencing hearing in June 2022, including registration as a sex offender for 10 years. 

In light of this development, it seems like a suitable opportunity to review the Illinois laws against and penalties for grooming.

Illinois Laws Against Grooming

The Illinois laws against grooming appear under 720 ILCS 5/11-25. There are two elements to this offense under Section 11-25. 

The first element requires the perpetrator to knowingly:

  • Use a computer, online service, bulletin board, or any other device that stores or transmits electronic data;
  • Conduct in-person communication or conduct such communication through a third party;
  • Utilize written communication to seduce, solicit, lure, or entice a child, their guardian, or a person believed to be a child or their guardian; or
  • Utilize written communication to attempt to seduce, solicit, lure, or entice a child, their guardian, or a person believed to be a child or their guardian.

The second element requires the perpetrator to:

  • Commit any sex offense under the Sex Offender Registration Act; 
  • Distribute photographs of a child’s sex organs; or
  • Engage in any unlawful sexual conduct with a child or a person believed to be a child. 

In this context, it is important to note that the term “child” refers to any person under the age of 17 years old. 

Illinois Punishment for Grooming

Section 11-25 also explains the Illinois punishment for grooming. Under this section, grooming is typically charged as a Class 4 felony.

A conviction for a Class 4 felony in Illinois can lead to the following range of penalties:

  • Sentencing Range — One to three years in prison;
  • Extended Term — Three to six years in prison;
  • Criminal Fines — Up to $25,000 in criminal fines; and
  • Probation — Up to 30 months of probation. 

On top of the criminal penalties outlined above, a conviction for grooming triggers the requirements of the Sex Offender Registration Act. In other words, any person convicted of grooming in Illinois must register as a sex offender and comply with all applicable rules and regulations. 

Do You Need Legal Help?

No matter what the criminal offense, all charges are serious. A sound strategy and an aggressive defense are essential for a positive outcome. To protect your rights in such situations, it is highly advisable to retain legal counsel from an experienced criminal defense attorney.

The Prior Law Firm in Bloomington, Illinois, has proven experience in matters of criminal defense. If you need legal help with criminal defense, contact us today for a free consultation. You can reach The Prior Law Firm by phone at (309) 827-4300, email at johnprior@thepriorlawfirm.com or by completing an online form.