A new Illinois law cracks down on family members who might help their loved-ones hide from police. A loophole has made it hard to charge those people with aiding and abetting. This new law came about after a Chicago Tribune investigation found family members were providing money, passports, even plane tickets to fugitives and not facing any consequences.
"If you are providing financial assistance to help a fleeing felon they could basically be at large for several years, endangering others if they are wanted on serious crimes such as murders or aggravated batteries," says Marilyn Hite Ross, Winnebago County Deputy State's Attorney.
The new law makes it a class 4 felony for fugitives' or criminals' immediate family members to help them run from the law.
"What we've had to do as a prosecuting agency is be creative and look at other statues to see if those individuals' conduct would fall under one of those and we have charged under other statues in those situations," says Hite Ross.
That includes cases like Omarrian Jones who in 2009 killed an elderly Rockford couple and was on the run for eight days. Jones' mother, Helen Jones, tried to help him and ended up pleading guilty to obstruction charges. If this new law was in place the penalties might have been different.
"You always have to remember there are family of these victims that have a right to expect justice and if this helps speed up that process, if it helps to bring it to a faster conclusion and if it helps keep people from getting involved and keeping people from fleeing then its a good thing," says Winnebago County Sheriff Dick Meyers.
Family members who help offenders will face between one to 3 years in prison and/or a $25,000 fine. The new law goes into effect January 1st.
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