Laws Protecting Illinois Cemeteries
The following is a partial list of state and local cemetery and burial laws. These laws apply to both registered and unregistered and/or unmarked cemeteries and/or graves. This does not include any federal cemetery or burial laws (most of which will, in general, apply only to federally owned land). Complete versions of these laws are available at www.ilga.gov/legislation.
20 ILCS 3435 Archaeological and Paleontological Resources Protection Act
Individual persons, as defined in the statute, are prohibited from disturbing (collecting, destroying, defacing, etc.) archaeological and paleontological resources on public lands in Illinois. This law is also known as the Public Lands Act. Violations of this Act are subject to civil penalties relating to either the misdemeanor or felony charges.
20 ILCS 3440 Human Skeletal Remains Protection Act
This Act, passed in 1989, protects all unregistered graves, graves artifacts, and grave markers (including prehistoric mounds) that are over 100 years old and are not located in a cemetery that is registered with the State Comptroller’s Office under the Cemetery Care Act. It offers protection from all disturbances including, but not limited to, excavation (includes cultivation), vandalism, removal, defacement, or desecration in any way. Violations of the law are either misdemeanor or felony offenses and are subject to criminal penalties. This law is administered by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and it is their preference that graves or cemeteries be undisturbed and preserved in place.
525 ILCS 30/3.01, 30/3.03, 30/3.04,
30/11, 30/12 Illinois Natural Areas Preservation Act
Provides for the protection of lands, waters, plants, animals, and cultural resources into natural areas for scientific research, aesthetic enjoyment, and natural plant and animal habitats for present and future generations. Cemeteries located in nature preserves or natural areas are regulated by the Illinois Nature Preserve Commission, Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
760 ILCS 100 Cemetery Care Act
This Act mandates the financial and maintenance responsibilities of cemetery owners and operators. The Illinois Office of the State Comptroller administers this act for cemeteries registered with the office’s Cemetery Care and Burial Trust Division.
765 ILCS 835 Cemetery Protection Act
This law makes it illegal to vandalize, obliterate, or desecrate a burial ground (cemetery), park, memorial, grave marker, vegetation, or surround (fences, curbs, etc.) dedicated to the deceased. Under this law, specific criminal penalties are provided for and increase in severity relative to degree of the offense.
County and municipality laws
Each of these laws authorizes funds to be appropriated for the restoration of abandoned cemeteries within county or township boundaries.
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