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Craig Armstrong

Other Sex Offender Registration Exonerations
On October 27, 2011, a DuPage County grand jury indicted 46-year-old Craig Armstrong on a charge of failing to register as a sex offender in Villa Park, Illinois.

It was the second time he had been charged with such a violation. On January 26, 2005, a Cook County grand jury had indicted Armstrong on a charge of failing to register as a sex offender in Maywood, Illinois.

The charges in both indictments was based on Armstrong’s 1997 conviction for unlawful restraint of his then-girlfriend in DeKalb County, Illinois.

On March 25, 2005, Armstrong had pled guilty to the charge in Cook County Circuit Court. He was sentenced to one year in prison and was released on parole on May 29, 2005.

After he was indicted in 2011, Armstrong pled guilty to the charge on July 11, 2012 in DuPage County Circuit Court. He was sentenced to three years in prison. He was released on October 7, 2013.

In 2014, Armstrong, acting without a lawyer, filed a petition seeking to vacate his conviction. Attached to the petition were copies of correspondence between Villa Park police and the DuPage County Circuit Court clerk’s office. In October 2011, the police department faxed a letter to the clerk’s office stating there was an investigation of Armstrong for a sex offender registration violation. The fax referred to the 1997 conviction in DeKalb County and requested copies of any court documents pertaining Armstrong’s sentencing and sex offender registration requirements.

On October 6, 2011, the clerk’s office sent a fax back to the police saying: “no sex offender registration order.”

Armstrong contended that the 1997 conviction did not carry a sex offender registration requirement. The petition was dismissed for failing to provide a required notice to the prosecution.

Armstrong appealed and in March 2016, the Illinois Appellate Court reversed Armstrong’s conviction.

“Having summarized the 1997 proceedings, we must agree with defendant that his 1997 conviction of unlawful restraint did not make him subject to registration as a sex offender,” the court ruled.

The court said that having examined the 1997 plea agreement, it agreed that “the offense to which (Armstrong) pleaded guilty was not a sex offense” and as a result he “was not subject to the consequence of sex-offender registration.” The court said that the prosecution for failing to register was “legally baseless from the outset.”

The court ruled that Armstrong’s attorney should have discovered that he was not required to register. The court said that had “trial counsel made the examination, he would have realized all of this.”

On May 31, 2016, the DuPage County State’s Attorney’s Office dismissed the charge. On February 23, 2018, based on the appeals court ruling, Cook County prosecutors agreed to dismiss the 2005 sex offender registry conviction there.

Armstrong subsequently filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Villa Park police department. The lawsuit was settled for $35,000 in 2018.

In 2019, Armstrong obtained certificates of innocence in in DuPage and Cook County Circuit Courts and then filed a petition seeking compensation from the state of Illinois for his time in prison. In October 2019, he was awarded $80,000 in state compensation.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 9/22/2019
Last Updated: 1/14/2020
Most Serious Crime:Sex Offender Registration
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2011
Sentence:3 years
Age at the date of reported crime:46
Contributing Factors:Inadequate Legal Defense
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No