The Illinois Eavesdropping Act has drawn much attention over the last few years as advancements in technology have made it much easier to record almost anything that happens in public or private settings. The law was enacted long before the use of smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices, which means that it has also become very easy for some folks to face felony charges in Illinois.
In Illinois, an individual could potentially be charged with a felony for recording a public interaction or conversation with an officer on a smartphone without the officer’s consent. If convicted of eavesdropping under this type of circumstance, an individual could be sentenced to serve up to 15 years in prison for the offense. However, many argue the current law is being misapplied in many criminal cases and that the law may even violate the First Amendment.
This week, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed with a lower court that the eavesdropping law in Illinois may violate the First Amendment. Although the law remains unchanged for now, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to side with a lower court ruling on the issue may still be beneficial.
As a result of the ruling, more law enforcement departments and prosecutors might choose to stop enforcing the law when it comes to recording public conversations and interactions with officers. Some judges have already stated prior to this week’s ruling that the eavesdropping law cannot be applied in their courtrooms when cases involve citizens recording officers in public settings and situations.
Felony charges are serious matters. When folks are accused of committing felony crimes in Illinois, it is important that they have someone on their side who will know how to strategically and aggressively protect their rights.
Source: Chicago Tribune, “End the ‘eavesdropping’ battle,” Nov. 29, 2012
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Eavesdropping a felony? Law still under debate in Illinois.