JUSTICE THEIS delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion.Chief Justice Karmeier and Justices Freeman, Thomas,
Kilbride, Garman, and Burke concurred in the judgment and
1 Section 11-9.4-1(b) of the Criminal Code of 2012 provides,
"It is unlawful for a sexual predator or a child sex
offender to knowingly be present in any public park building
or on real property comprising any public park." 720
ILCS 5/11-9.4-1(b) (West 2016). The sole issue in this case
is whether that statute is facially violative of substantive
due process. The trial court rejected defendant Marc
Pepitone's due process claim, but the appellate court
majority accepted it and reversed his conviction. 2017 IL App
(3d) 140627. For the reasons that follow, we reverse the
judgment of the appellate court and affirm the
defendant's conviction and sentence.
3 In 1998, the defendant was charged with predatory criminal
sexual assault of a child, criminal sexual assault, and
aggravated criminal sexual abuse. He pleaded guilty to
predatory criminal sexual assault of a child. The trial court
sentenced him to six years' imprisonment.
4 Fourteen years later, in 2013, Village of Bolingbrook
police officer Steven Alexander was patrolling a municipal
park around 4:30 p.m. when he observed a van improperly
parked across three spaces. Officer Alexander checked the
van's plates and learned that it was registered to the
defendant. While Officer Alexander was standing near the van,
the defendant approached with his dog. The defendant asked
Officer Alexander if there was a problem with the van. The
defendant related that he was a child sex offender but that
his registration requirement had expired in 2010. Officer
Alexander informed the defendant that, as a child sex
offender, he was forbidden to be on park property. Though the
defendant was unaware of such a ban, he was arrested for
violating section 11-9.4-1(b).
5 The defendant filed a motion to dismiss the charge, arguing
that the statute is facially unconstitutional under the
federal and state due process clauses (U.S. Const., amend.
XIV; Ill. Const. 1970, art. I, § 2) and unconstitutional
as applied under the federal and state ex post facto
clauses (U.S. Const., art. I, § 10; Ill. Const. 1970,
art. I, § 16). The trial court denied that motion, and
the case proceeded to a one-day jury trial. The parties
stipulated that the defendant is a child sex offender under
section 11-9.4-1(b). At the close of the State's
evidence, the defendant made a motion for a directed verdict,
again arguing that the statute was unconstitutional. The
trial court denied that motion, and the jury found the
defendant guilty of violating the statute. The trial court
entered judgment on the jury's verdict and later
sentenced the defendant to 24 months' conditional
discharge and 100 hours of community service and fined him
$400. The defendant filed a motion for a new trial, asserting
that the trial court erred in denying his motion to dismiss.
The court denied the defendant's motion for a new trial,
and he appealed.
6 A divided appellate court panel reversed, holding that
section 11-9.4-1(b) is facially violative of substantive due
process. 2017 IL App (3d) 140627. The appellate court
majority noted that People v. Avila-Briones, 2015 IL
App (1st) 132221, and People v. Pollard, 2016 IL App
(5th) 130514, both had rejected substantive due process
challenges to the Sex Offender Registration Act (730 ILCS
150/1 et seq. (West 2012)), the Sex Offender
Community Notification Law (730 ILCS 152/101 et seq.
(West 2012)), and several other sex offender statutes,
including section 11-9.4-1(b). 2017 IL App (3d) 140627,
¶¶ 12-13. The appellate court majority was not
persuaded by the analyses in those cases, which it termed
"incomplete and truncated." Id. ¶ 14.
Instead, the majority chose to follow cases from this court
in which statutes were invalidated under due process for
criminalizing innocent conduct. Id. ¶ 15.
According to the majority, those cases, "while very
different in their facts, are significant *** because the
statutes at issue, like section 11-9.4-1(b), contain no
culpable mental state" and "reach countless types
of innocent conduct." Id. ¶ 20. The
appellate court majority insisted, "Mere presence in a
public park building or public park, without more, is not
unlawful conduct." Id.
7 Further, the majority noted that, unlike its repealed
predecessor (see 720 ILCS 5/11-9.4(a) (West 2010)), which
"actually attempted to tie the child sex offender's
presence to times when children were also present" (2017
IL App (3d) 140627, ¶ 21), section 11-9.4-1(b)
"cannot be reasonably construed as aimed at
preventing a substantial step toward the commission of a sex
offense against a child or any offense that would result in
an individual qualifying as a sexual predator" (emphasis
in original) (id. ¶ 20). The current statute
was "premised on a vague notion that a child or other
'target' may be present in a public park building or
on public park property, " and it "makes no attempt
to assess the dangerousness of a particular individual."
Id. ¶ 22.
8 The appellate court majority highlighted the "overly
broad sweep" of section 11-9.4-1(b) and provided an
"extensive" list of activities that occur on public
park property, in which persons like the defendant cannot
participate. Id. ¶ 23. The majority concluded
that the statute violated due process because "it is not
reasonably related to its goal of protecting the public,
especially children, " from individuals fitting the
definition of a child sex offender and because it is not
"drafted in such a way as to effect that goal without
arbitrarily stripping a wide swath of innocent conduct and
rights" from such individuals who have already
"paid the penalty" for their crimes. Id.
9 Justice Carter dissented. He would have followed
Avila-Briones and Pollard and held that
"the means adopted in *** section 11-9.4-1(b) are a
reasonable method of accomplishing the legislature's
desired objective of protecting the public from sex
offenders." Id. ¶ 31 (Carter, J.,
dissenting). Justice Carter surmised that "[b]y keeping
sex offenders who have committed sex offenses against
children away from areas where children are present, the
legislature could have rationally sought to avoid giving
those sex offenders an opportunity to reoffend."
Id. ¶ 32.
10 This court allowed the State's petition for leave to
appeal. Ill. S.Ct. R. 315(a) (eff. Mar. 15, 2016). We also
allowed both Illinois Voices for Reform and the National
Association for Rational Sexual Offense Laws to file
amicus curiae briefs in support of the defendant.
Ill. S.Ct. R. 345 (eff. Sept. 20, 2010).
12 The analysis in this case is guided by familiar
principles. All statutes carry a strong presumption of
constitutionality. People v. Hollins, 2012 IL
112754, ¶ 13. Accordingly, this court will uphold
statutes whenever reasonably possible, resolving all doubts
in favor of their validity. People v. Boeckmann, 238
Ill.2d 1, 6-7 (2010). To rebut the presumption, a party
challenging a statute must establish clearly that it violates
the constitution. People v. Rizzo, 2016 IL 118599,
¶ 23. That burden is particularly heavy where, as here,
the party raises a facial challenge, asserting that there is
no circumstance in which the ...