Internet Solicitation Laws in Chicago

w33-zg-dnl4-rami-al-zayat-300x200The internet has not only opened up new avenues of communication, but has also created an entire category of crimes that require bespoke responses from the legislature. It is from that perspective that Chicago has come up with an internet solicitation legal framework which captures cyber sex crimes (720 ILCS 5/11-6.6 for enticement), among other things. On the other hand, the rules as they exist have left the door open for vigilantes and ingénues to entice otherwise ordinary citizens into compromising situations. The web sting has become an effective tool for police to target suspected pedophiles and other types of online offenders. More recently the phenomenon of revenge porn and unsolicited sexting has plagued legislatures across the globe. For the defense attorney, entrapment might be one of the critical issues that needs to be examined.

How the Law is Designed and Implemented

For a person to fall within the ambit of the law, they must knowingly engage in acts that amount to criminality, but the lines are blurred when undercover agents effectively encourage predisposed people to engage in illegal acts. At other times the law is the only way of being able to capture those sophisticated offenders who have a secretive network of contacts that are able to access some of the most offensive material that is currently available on the internet. Typically the offender is so unsympathetic that the public is unable to pay any attention to the civil liberties issues that may have been raised during his or her arrest, trial, conviction, and sentencing. Ignorance and apathy remain key characteristics of the type of offender that engages with the internet in this way (see 720 ILCS 5/11-6 for indecent solicitation and online sexual solicitation rules). Some may consider it relatively harmless to surf certain pages while others are simply unaware that they are breaking specific laws in Chicago.

The first time that it dawns on them, they will have acquired one of the worst possible criminal records in the entire spectrum of options. A case in point is the lifetime registration for certain sex offenders, which in effect becomes a welcoming sign for vigilantes to attack the offender. The extended punishment is not only costly to the defendant but also to society, which spends extraordinary amounts of money fighting off the vigilantes or prosecuting them when they eventually get to their quarry. The stigma that is associated with this class of offense means that the defendants are unwilling to publicly pursue their rights. Given the significance of falling short of the law, one might have assumed that the legal entities would have made sure that prosecution only happened when there was clear cause.

The reality is somewhat different in as far as prosecutors are often more afraid of a public backlash than they are of the risk of failing to protect the interests of justice. The default position, therefore, is to condemn the offenders before they are tried. Once they are convicted then everything is done to ensure that they never escape from their crimes no matter how much time has passed. That is not to say that online sex crimes are any less horrific than their offline counterparts. There are far too many sex slavery scams that begin their shelf life on the internet. The gullible, ignorant, and vulnerable can be persuaded to engage in behavior that will ultimately cost them their lives.

Avoiding an Illegitimate Business

Sex crimes are never a legitimate business or leisure activity. Solicitation can be either a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the seriousness of the circumstances. The sentencing guidelines are quite extensive in order to reflect the diversity of circumstances in which these solicitation crimes are committed. Where a minor is involved, the offense is upgraded to a Class 3 felony (see 720 ILCS 5/10-5.1 for luring a minor). It will attract mandatory registration as well as to a term of imprisonment not exceeding five years under the Safe Children Act. Call David Freidberg Attorney at Law today at 312-560-7100 to get the legal help that you need.

(image courtesy of Rami al Zayat)

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