Archive for the ‘New Illinois Laws’ Category
April 25th, 2014 at 12:19 pm
The Illinois Supreme Court recently ruled on the constitutionality of a statute regarding the legality of audio-recording a conversation. According to that law, any person who records a conversation without the consent of all parties involved in the conversation commits a crime. The law as written is broad, and defines a conversation as any oral communication between two or more people, regardless of whether one of the parties intends for the conversation to be private.
Facts of the Case
The facts giving rise to the case that was eventually heard by the Illinois Supreme Court involve a pro-se party to a child support proceeding. That party recorded a hearing that was held in open court during which a court reporter was not present. He also recorded a conversation between himself and opposing counsel prior to the start of the hearing. The recording was the pro-se party’s only record of the proceedings, in which he participated without the benefit of counsel or a court reporter keeping a record. He was charged with violating the aforementioned statute as a result of these actions.
The Illinois Supreme Court held that the above statute violates the First Amendment, as the law places a greater burden on speech than what is required to protect the interest in conversational privacy. The Court reasoned that the statute criminalizes a broad range of conduct regarding recording all conversations, even those that may not be considered private under any circumstances, including any conversation that is loud enough to be overheard by a third party, whether in a public or a private setting. Not all conversations implicate privacy interests, but the law as written failed to distinguish that fact, despite the fact that the law did contain several exceptions. The Court stated that recordings of truly private conversations would remain under the scope of the statute, as a narrower interpretation of law better serves the intent in enacting it.
In addition, the statute criminalized conduct that, seen another way, is perfectly legal. For example, if a person overheard a conversation without recording it and later quoted a portion of the communication in a publication, no law would be broken. However, if the same person merely recorded a conversation without having published any of its contents, the act would be a crime.
The Court concluded that the statute went too far in trying to protect a citizen’s interest in private conversations, and that it put more burden on free speech than necessary to serve its interests. The Court deemed the statute overly broad and, therefore, unconstitutional.
In addition to the enactment of new laws, laws that have been on the books change and are tested in Court regularly. While every member of the public may not be aware of this fact, it is an attorney’s responsibility to keep informed of new laws and changes to existing ones. That is why hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect your rights is so important. If you have been charged with a crime in the Chicago area, contact the Law Office of Christopher M. Cosley today for a consultation.
April 3rd, 2014 at 7:56 am
In filling out numerous types of documents and applications required for everyday things, many of us have likely noticed questions related to prior felony convictions. It may not be applicable to everyone, but for those who have to indicate a prior conviction, it could mean they are denied a job or a home and, as a result, a new start. A recent article discussed the discrimination associated with those who have a criminal record, as well as a campaign started by a prisoners’ rights organization aimed at removing the question from public employee forms.
Ban the Box
Ten years ago, the organization All of Us or None began the “Ban the Box” campaign, which 10 states and dozens of local jurisdictions have joined, in an effort to get any questions about prior felony convictions removed from public employee forms. They have had some success recently, which has propelled a movement at the national level to improve hiring opportunities for mostly non-violent criminal offenders.
States and Local Jurisdictions are Responding
In San Francisco, the mayor signed the Fair Chance Ordinance into law, which not only addressed the question appearing on public employee forms, but also on paperwork related to affordable housing and private employers with more than 20 employees. The idea is that punishing someone twice for the same past mistake is not a worthwhile goal.
The state of Illinois has implemented similar state laws regarding the removal of conviction history questions on public employment applications, and Chicago is among the jurisdictions mentioned above that have implemented ban the box policies.
Limits of Ban the Box
Although many states and jurisdictions may be taking actions in preventing initial disclosure of criminal history to avoid employers automatically disqualifying prior convicts for a given position, it will not prevent the information from being shared at all. Rather, many laws (like the one passed in California last year) will specify that the job applicant does not have to disclose criminal convictions until after a potential employer determines that the applicant otherwise meets the minimum qualifications required for the job.
Some States Hesitant to Follow Suit
While some jurisdictions in the south have implemented ban the box, no southern states have taken the step to pass or propose such a law going into effect. In order for the movement as a whole to be successful, the idea needs to be implemented in different places across the country, and also needs to include private employment practices, housing, and loan applications. The overarching theme of the movement is not only equal treatment, but also a shift in society’s thinking so that all people can hope for a better life.
Criminal Defense Attorney
There have been numerous issues involving criminal justice and improvements to the system in the United States that have developed lately. An experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to help you not only in protecting your rights in court, but in giving you the best chance of improving your life going forward. Contact the attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today for a consultation if you have been charged with a crime in Chicago or the surrounding area.
February 14th, 2014 at 1:02 pm
The legal status of marijuana use has been a popular topic in the media in the recent past. In fact, many are pointing out the coincidence that the two teams who will be competing in this year’s NFL Superbowl are from the two states that have legalized marijuana use across the board. While other states have not made such a dramatic change in their laws regarding use of the drug, a number of states across the country have legalized marijuana for the limited purpose of medical use. Illinois is one such state.
Conditions to Legally Use Medical Marijuana in Illinois
Just because Illinois has legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes does not mean that users are free to do so at their own discretion. According to an article recently published by Liberty Voice, an individual who seeks to use the drug for medical reasons may still have to pay a substantial fee, get a background check, be fingerprinted by law enforcement, and could be asked to surrender their firearms. Other costs associated with the legal use of marijuana for medical reasons can include a $150.00 fee for an identification card application and the cost of fingerprinting, which can range from $30.00 to $50.00.
Limits of the Law
In Illinois, marijuana was legalized for the limited purpose of use as another method of treatment for grave diseases that cause what is considered a debilitating condition, as well as chronic pain. Those who suffer from such defined diseases can use the drug within certain guidelines that still have to be fully defined. Other use is still illegal, and possession of the drug in Illinois will still be considered a Federal offense.
The Illinois Department of Public Health posted the proposed rules and regulations regarding the new law on their website. After February 7th, any public comments submitted will be turned over to the panel of lawmakers who will decide by April 2014 what exactly the medical marijuana law will include in the state. The law is part of a pilot project for medical marijuana use in Illinois, and will be in effect for four years.
The State’s Position
Illinois concedes that medical marijuana use has a long history going back thousands of years, and modern medicine supports that its use is beneficial for those suffering with debilitating illnesses such as cancer, HIV and AIDS, and multiple sclerosis. The drug can be effective in treating pain and addressing side effects associated with these illnesses that other medicine cannot. Licensed physicians have recommended the drug to hundreds of thousands of patients in other states where medical use is legal, and its recognition by other medical organizations gives it credibility.
This law represents an important change in Illinois’ drug laws. However, it is important to note that the change is very narrow and limited to a specific use that must meet numerous conditions and regulations in order to be considered legal. If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime involving illegal drugs in Illinois, an experienced criminal defense attorney can help. Contact us today to discuss your case.
January 18th, 2014 at 12:47 pm
As we mark the beginning of 2014, many new laws will emerge in the state of Illinois. We previously discussed the change in Illinois law regarding the use of mobile phones while driving and the consequences of doing so, but there are other changes that will take place that are worth mentioning as well. According to an article recently published by NPR for St. Louis, the relevant issues encompass everything from marijuana to littering.
The new law involving medical marijuana involves a four-year trial program that allows individuals that are plagued with certain specified ailments to get a prescription for medicinal marijuana. Regulations and licenses have not been issued, so this may not go into effect right away in 2014. In addition, in order to meet the requirements of the law, the illness must be considered debilitating.
In 2014, smokers will have to take their habit outside and find a proper receptacle to get rid of the cigarette butts when they are finished. Illinois’ Litter control Act has been amended to include cigarettes, so people in violation of the policy can be charged with a Class B misdemeanor, plus a fine of up to $1,500. A second offense is graded as a Class A misdemeanor, and a third will be considered a felony, which can be punishable by a jail term of one to three years and up to a $25,000 fine.
As an extension of the law, property owners are also required to place enough waste receptacles on the property. If they fail to do so and littering takes place where a receptacle should be, the property owner can be charged with a petty offense and be fined $100. After getting a warning, property owners have 10 days to place the necessary waste receptacles on the property. If he or she fails to do so after the warning, they may be charged with a petty offense and be fined $25 for each receptacle they failed to obtain.
For purposes of delinquency or records concerning a minor in Illinois, the relevant age will be increased to 17 in 2014, up from 16 as it was previously. In addition, those under 18 will not legally be allowed to use facilities for tanning, minors will be prevented from buying e-cigarettes, and students will have the right to refuse a school’s request for their passwords to social networking sites unless the school can show good cause.
It will be legal to seal and travel with one unfinished bottle of previously opened wine beginning in 2014.
In 2014, bicycles are considered an exception from the prohibition on two-wheeled vehicles moving on the right of a separate craft that is not propelled solely by a human being.
The speed limit will be raised to 70 mph on some highways, but areas of Chicago and Metro East will reserve the right to set speed limits at a lower number.
Beginning in 2014, it will be considered a crime to accept payment for altering a criminal record. Also, it will be illegal for State grant recipients and their employees to knowingly using grant funds for political activities or as compensation for time spent on political work.
These are only a few of the many laws that will go into effect in Illinois in 2014. Many other changes in the law, and changes in rules and procedures, may affect your rights if you were or will be charged with a crime. An experienced criminal defense attorney in Chicago can help you understand changes in the law and how they may apply in your case. Contact us today for a consultation.
January 11th, 2014 at 11:24 am
The New Year is here, and with it come new laws and regulations that are going into effect. One change that could be especially relevant for criminal defendants involves new training for law enforcement in the use of Taser guns. According to WICS, who recently reported on the change, a new law went into effect on January 1st, 2014, and requires more training for police officers who may use Tasers on a suspect.
The new law also requires police departments to keep detailed records of their training related to Taser use and when they are used in a confrontation with a potential defendant. In the event a police officer uses a Taser on a suspect, the officer will then be required to collect certain information from the suspect.
Some law enforcement agencies reported that it had already been their practice to keep records similar to those required by the law for the last seven years, and also regularly practiced displaying Tasers when an officer had one in his or her possession, something which was not required under the old rules. Displaying the Taser involves removing it from its holster and making sure the suspect sees it as if the officer is going to use it. At times, the suspect may start complying with law enforcement after seeing it and the officer can then secure it in the holster again without having to use it. Then, the protocol is for the officer to complete paperwork stating that they displayed the Taser, the suspect complied, and was not tased.
Under the new rule, all of the data kept by police departments will be required to be turned over to the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, who in turn will present a report containing the relevant information to the governor of the state of Illinois and the Illinois legislature.
While not all changes in police procedure may have a significant impact on the rights of a criminal defendant, violations of procedure could very well affect the outcome of a criminal case. It is best to consult with an experienced Chicago criminal defense attorney who can discuss your case with you and protect your rights. Our attorneys have experience defending citizens in many types of criminal law cases, and we can advise you on the specific facts of your case. Contact us today for a consultation.