A recent Illinois appellate court has declared both Illinois’s stalking and cyberstalking laws unconstitutional because they lack the element of intent.

The Illinois stalking statute made it a crime to knowingly engage in conduct that would cause a reasonable person to fear for their or another’s safety or cause them emotional distress. The cyberstalking statute stated you could be charged if you knowingly and without lawful justification transmited a threat of immediate or future bodily harm, confinement or sexual assault against at person or their family or have caused them to reasonably fear immediate or future harm.

In People v Relerford, the appellate court objected to the “reasonable person” language used in the statutes. While that standard is sufficient to prove negligence in a civil case, it does not meet the higher burden of proof required by due process in a criminal case. Instead of merely knowing or what a reasonable person might feel, you must intend to cause the fear or emotional distress. Because the intent element was missing, the appellate court declared both statutes unconstitutional and overturned the defendant’s convictions.

The Illinois legislature is already attempting to rewrite the law.

If you are charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An experienced criminal law attorney can review your case for your best possible defense. If you were charged under an unconstitutional law, an attorney may be able to petition the court to dimiss your case.

If you have questions about this or another related criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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