In the internet era, stranger danger is not limited to the streets.

The act of using an electronic transmission device such as the internet to induce the trust of a child under age 17 for sexual purposes is known as “grooming.” Grooming is a Class 4 felony, punishable by 1 to 4 years in prison.

Under Illinois law, a person commits grooming when he or she knowingly attempts to use or uses an on-line, internet or local bulletin board service or any other device with electronic data storage or transmission to solicit, lure or entice a child or their guardian into committing any unlawful sexual conduct.

According to People v Vara, “In the context of sex abuse of a child, grooming is commonly understood as a method of building trust with a child or an adult around the child in an effort to gain access to the child, make the child a cooperative participant in the abuse, and reduce the chance that the abuse is detected or disclosed.”

If you are charged with grooming or a similar offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review the options for your best possible defense. As with most other crimes, the state must prove you guilty of all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Can the state prove that you sent the electronic messages? Did the police have probable cause to search you or your computer? Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming and the police acted lawfully, an attorney who is respected at the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

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

See: Illinois Grooming Statute.

(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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