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New laws to protect minors

Illinois residents have a few more days to research the more than 150 new laws which will go into effect on Jan. 1.

On Thursday, Bureau County State’s Attorney Patrick Herrmann said the general public is held responsible for compliance with the new laws. The best way for the public to learn about the new laws is generally through the media. There is also a register through the Illinois General Assembly website which publishes the new laws each year. As state’s attorney, he is kept informed about new laws that pertain to his office through the bar association and/or a state’s attorney association, Herrmann said.

Some of the new laws dealing with the protection of children and teens are as follows:

• Underage Drinking Parent Penalties (HB1554/PA 97‐1049): Cracks down on parents or guardians who permit underage drinking on property they own. Makes it a crime to allow underage drinking not only at a parent’s or guardian’s home, but also on property under their control, including a barn, cabin, boathouse, etc.

• Caylee’s Law (SB 2537/PA 97‐1079): Responds to the nationally-covered case surrounding the death of 2‐year-old Caylee Anthony, whose mother failed to report her daughter missing and then lied about circumstances surrounding the child’s disappearance and death. The new law increases penalties for failure to report the disappearance or death of a child 13 years or younger within 24 hours, or one hour if the child is younger than 2 years.

Caylee’s Law also expands the “obstruction of justice” definition to include parents, guardians or caretakers of a child younger than 13 who provide false information to law enforcement or other authorities investigating the child’s disappearance or death.

• Child Luring (HB 5265/PA 97‐998): Increases the victim’s age in the child luring statute from younger than 16 to younger than 17. Also, if the victim was traveling to or from school, it allows for felony prosecution when the victim is 17 or younger. This was prompted by a DuPage County case in which a 17‐year‐old student was on her way to school and was being followed by a sex offender in a van. The van was stopped by police, but officers could only charge the van driver with disorderly conduct because the current child luring statute applies to minors 16 and younger.

• Child Sex Offender Holiday Costume Prohibition (SB 3579/PA 97‐699): Prohibits sex offenders from participating in holiday events involving children, such as handing out candy at Halloween or working or volunteering as Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny.

• Child Support Payments (SB 3549/PA 97‐1029): Provides the court with additional methods to pursue child support from a parent who is found guilty of contempt for failure to comply with an order to pay child support, and who conducts a business or is self‐employed. Self‐employed individuals cannot have their wages garnished. Requiring these individuals to provide monthly financial statements, provide detailed written accounts about job search efforts, and/or report to the Department of Employment Security for job search services, may help individuals obtain the employment they need to provide support or provide incentive for these individuals to pay their support, legislators claim.

• Serving a Child Protocol (HB 5062/PA 97‐988): Specifies that a child’s guardian, rather than the child, would be served legal papers by a process server if the child is under 14 years old. This was recommended by an adoption attorney, who pointed out that young children are often confused and frightened when served the legal papers.

Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.

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