The one thing that every person on the sex offender registry has in common is that they need to register. Some will register once per year, others every 90 days, and those who have no fixed place to live, every week. For some, the registration process is fairly simple and straight forward. For others, such as those who live in Chicago, the process involves standing in long lines, dealing with people who don’t seem to really care, and sometime even dealing with police or sheriff’s departments that are outright hostile towards those who have to register as sex offenders.
In Illinois, registration takes place in person. There is no online registration like there is in other states. And registration in Illinois can often be a moving target since a number of events can cause your registration date to change.
There is no grace period for registering in Illinois. You are required to register on or before your registration date. If you arrive one day late, you could be violated and arrested. If you fail to register a change in address, a change in employment, a new vehicle, or other events that require registering, you can be violated and arrested. Illinois takes registration violations very seriously, and many people end up doing prison time for registration violations.
Illinois requires those convicted of a sex offense to pay $100 per year for registration. Some police departments or sheriff’s offices will collect the $100, some will not. All registering units have the authority to issue waivers if you cannot afford the $100, but there is nothing in the laws the says how they should determine if you can afford it or not. If you truly cannot come up with the $100 registration fee, ask your registering unit about a waiver. If you have never been asked to pay the $100, don’t ask them about it. Be prepared in case they ask you, but you don’t need to bring it up if they don’t ask.
Here are some tips for registering in Illinois:
Know your registration date and your registration location! If you don’t know this information, find it!
Have some sort of calendar reminder. This could mean circling the date on your wall calendar, creating a reminder in your electronic calendar, using an on-line reminder application (such as Memo To Me, www.memotome.com), or some other way to remind you that it’s time to register. Don’t rely on the letter you are supposed to get from the state police each year!
Prior to your registration date, gather up the information you will be required to provide. This includes:
Your address information, including your phone number or numbers
The name, address, and phone number of your employer (where you work)
Your driver’s license number
The license plate numbers of any vehicles registered in your name
All email addresses that you use
Screen names of any social networking sites. While it’s kind of hard to define what counts, you should give them any screen names of places where you are likely to post social information, talk or chat with others, exchange photos, or socialize with other people. You DO NOT need to provide screen names for things like credit card accounts, bank accounts, or private sites. You also DO NOT need to provide any passwords for any sites!
A list of any websites that you manage, create, or run.
A list of places that you will stay for more than 3 days (not necessarily in a row) during any one-year period. If you spend the night at your parents occasionally, and you will spend more than 3 nights there in the next year, you are supposed to provide that information.
If this is not the first time you are going in to register, take a copy of your last registration forms with you. This will make the process go more smoothly.
Check with your registering unit to see if an appointment is required. If it is, make your appointment WELL in advance. If an appointment is not required, you should go in person to register several days before your registration date. Don’t wait until the last day. If something happens and you unable to register that day, you risk being violated and arrested.
When you arrive at your local police department or sheriff’s office, go to the main desk and let them know you are there to update your annual registration. Unless they ask, you do not need to use the words “sex offender.” If you say “annual registration” they should know what you mean. Note that if you register in Chicago, you must go to 35th and Michigan and go around to the back where there is a door specifically for “criminal registration.” Plan to go early as the line forms very quickly and often takes hours to get through the line.
When you register, be polite and cooperative. Registering is a terrible feeling, and you may be tempted to act grumpy, defiant, or uncooperative. Not only will this NOT make you feel any better, it could make the process much more difficult than it needs to be. Do what you have to do and get out of there.
Don’t leave without a copy of your registration forms! A copy of your forms is the only proof you have that you complied with the law, so make sure you have a copy in your hands before you leave!
You are NOT required to have a copy of your registration form with you at all times (though you may hear others tell you that you are). But you should file your copy away someplace safe in case you are ever required to prove that you registered according to the law.
When you are done registering, do something nice for yourself. If you can afford to go out to eat, treat yourself to a nice meal. If not, play a video game or watch a relaxing movie. Be nice to yourself.
Remember, you are registering because it is required by law, not because you are a bad person. You are simply complying with a legal requirement.
Click Here to read about how others deal with registering