What is Unlawful Grooming?

Larry Nassar, a former Michigan State and USA Gymnastics team doctor, has been sentenced to hundreds of years in prison for his systematic abuse and harassment of young women. Nassar was formally charged with a wide range of sex crimes, ranging from unlawful grooming to sexual assault. Each of these sexually-oriented crimes is distinct. Most of us are familiar with more notorious sex crimes, such as sexual abuse or sexual assault. When it comes to understanding other sex offenses, like unlawful grooming, we tend to know a bit less.

What is Unlawful Grooming?

Grooming is a unique sex crime because it requires the use of technology. In Illinois, the crime of grooming is defined in 720 ILCS 5/11-25. You can be charged with the crime of grooming in Illinois if you:

  1. Knowingly use a computer and/or internet service,
  2. To seduce, solicit, lure, or entice,
  3. A child and/or their guardian,
  4. To commit a sex offense or engage in unlawful sexual conduct with a child.

An attempt to groom a child or their guardian does not have to be successful. Simply attempting to seduce, solicit, lure, or entice a child and/or their guardian to commit a sex act is enough to warrant criminal charges.

In simpler terms, grooming means using a computer and/or other technology to encourage a child to engage in sexual conduct. You can also face charges for grooming if you use a computer and/or technology to encourage a child’s guardian (or a person you believe to be their guardian) to allow their child to engage in sexual acts.

Examples of Unlawful Grooming

The crime of grooming can manifest in a variety of ways. The following examples demonstrate conduct that may be considered unlawful grooming in Illinois:

  • Sending a private message to a child on Facebook encouraging them to engage in lewd behavior.
  • Creating a false profile on a dating app and targeting young teens with requests for sex.
  • Posting an ad on a social media message board, such as Craigslist or Classifieds, seeking sexual encounters with a minor.
  • Texting or e-mailing lewd photographs of yourself to a child.

Criminal Penalties for Grooming

In Illinois, grooming is classified as Class 4 Felony. If you are convicted of unlawful grooming you will face a criminal penalty including 1-3 years in prison and $25,000 in criminal fines. Judges have the discretion to impose additional penalties, including probation, supervised release, counseling, restraining orders, and/or community service.

If you groom a child, and then travel to meet them, you will face additional charges and penalties under 720 ILCS 5/11-26. Traveling to meet a child is a Class 3 Felony, punishable by 2-5 years in prison.

Mandatory Sex Offender Registration

In Illinois, a grooming conviction will require you to register as a sex offender with the state. This means that you have to keep the state informed about your location, job, phone number, and in-depth information about all of your online accounts. As a registered sex offender you will have limited rights and freedoms, especially in regard to children. Since your sex crime involved technology, you may also lose the right to use it for a period of time. In addition to facing these state-mandated consequences, you will also have to adjust to living with the social stigma of being a registered sex offender.

Fighting Grooming Charges in Chicago

If you have been arrested for unlawful grooming in Chicago it is important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. The consequences of a grooming conviction will ruin your life. Not only will have you face serious time in prison, but you will also be required to register as a sex offender. Hiring an attorney can help to preserve your future. Call the Kostopoulos Law Group today to schedule a free consultation with our skilled criminal defense attorneys. We will review your case, explain your rights, and answer the questions you have.

Kostopoulos Law Group
125 S. Wacker Drive, Suite 300A
Chicago, IL 60606

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