New Illinois Eavesdropping Bill

Cook County Criminal Defense Attorneys

Following the deaths of Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and Mike Brown, Americans began to start asking more critical questions about transparency in law enforcement. Many groups and individuals called for increased surveillance and some municipalities in the United States went so far as to equip police officers with body cameras so all their actions on the job could be monitored.

Currently, it is a felony in Illinois to record another individual without his or her consent, although it is not illegal to record police officers in their interactions with the public. With the new eavesdropping law, equipping police officers with body cameras may prove to be difficult in Illinois.

If you are accused of committing an act of eavesdropping, contact a criminal defense attorney right away to begin working on your case's defense.

Bill 1342 and the Illinois Eavesdropping Act

In Illinois, 2014 saw the introduction of the Illinois Eavesdropping Act, which sought to make it a crime to use any type of electronic device to record a telephone call or private conversation without consent from all parties involved in the conversation. This act was found to be unconstitutional because it violated individuals' first amendment rights.

Later in 2014, Bill 1342 was drafted and brought to the statehouse for consideration as an amendment to the Juvenile Justice Mortality Review Team Act. Bill 1342 is a revised version of the earlier bill that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) worked with the state legislature to develop. Under this revised bill, new protections were added for civilians who record public officials on duty and the requirement that all parties consent to such recordings when in public was restored. It also gave law enforcement officers new rights to record crime suspects for up to 24 hours with only permission from a prosecutor, rather than having to obtain a warrant to do so.

Illinois Eavesdropping as a Criminal Offense

You can face criminal charges for eavesdropping in Illinois. Currently, an individual faces Class 4 felony charges for his or her first eavesdropping offense and Class 3 felony charges for any subsequent offenses.

An individual found guilty of a Class 4 felony charge may face one to three years in prison. For a Class 3 felony charge, he or she may face two to four years in prison.

Eavesdropping can be considered a felony if it is done stealthily in situations where the recorded parties have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Additionally, the charges an individual faces for unlawfully recording a private conversation can change according to the victim's title and status. Illegally recording a police officer, attorney general, assistant attorney general, state's attorney, assistant state's attorney, or a judge is automatically a Class 3 felony charge. Otherwise, a first-time eavesdropping offense is a Class 4 felony.

Understand that it is also illegal to even forward a text or e-mail from another person without the consent of all parties involved; in fact, such an act constitutes eavesdropping as well.

Know Your Rights

Understand that although it is illegal to surreptitiously record individuals' private conversations without their consent, it is not illegal to record police officers in public. The difference between these scenarios is the “reasonable expectation of privacy” included in the bill's language. When an officer is in public conducting official police duties such as investigations or general monitoring of the city and its roadways, he or she should not expect any privacy.

If you are unsure of whether a recording you've created violates Illinois' eavesdropping law, discuss it with your attorney. Do not share or broadcast your recording until you have determined that it does not in any way violate Illinois' current eavesdropping prohibition law.

Schaumburg Criminal Defense Attorneys

If you or a loved one have been accused of eavesdropping or any other criminal offense, contact Glasgow & Olsson at 847-577-8700 today for your free legal consultation. Our team of experienced Illinois criminal defense attorneys has a collective 50 years of experience practicing law. We will give your case the dedication and attention to detail it deserves. Don't wait to make the call – when you are facing criminal charges, your best defense is a proactive attitude paired with a competent attorney. Give our firm a call today to begin working on your defense.