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Illinois Passes Another Troubling Eavesdropping Law

December 23rd, 2014 at 6:57 am

criminal rights violation, Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal defense lawyer, In the past the Illinois legislature passed a law that, among other things, made it illegal for law abiding citizens to record on-duty police officers doing their job. Fortunately, the Illinois Supreme Court struck down this terrible law, which was obviously unconstitutional. Illinois legislature has now passed another eavesdropping law, and while it does not have the exact same problems as the first law, it is still deeply troubling to anyone who cares about civil liberties or the rights of criminal defendants.

The New Eavesdropping Law

NBC Chicago reported on the new law, which passed the state Senate by a margin of 46 to four and is now awaiting the governor’s signature. It is supposed to focus on protecting “private” conversations. The prior law in Illinois made it illegal to record any conversation without having the consent of all of the parties involved. That is how prosecutors used it to prosecute citizens who recorded cops behaving badly. This new law will keep the ban on recording a conversation without every party’s consent, but will supposedly only apply to private conversations. However, that is not all the law does. It also dangerously expands the power of police to record citizens without seeking a warrant.

Law Expands Police Power

The new law would allow police to secretly record a suspect’s conversations for 24 hours without getting a warrant. Instead they would only have to get the permission of a prosecutor. In other words, they only have to get the permission of someone who is already on their side. This differs wildly from the previous requirement that they get a warrant to do such a wiretap. Getting a warrant requires that they prove to a magistrate (a neutral judge) that they have probable cause before they can start spying on a citizen. The old law allowed this sort of behavior under certain emergencies, like in a hostage situation, but the new law would allow much broader recording.

What About Body Cameras?

The new law, if it passes, will also make creating a comprehensive body camera plan for police officers more complicated. Unless police officers are required to consent to being recorded at all times in order to be officers, then they could argue that they should be allowed to turn the cameras off when they are having “private conversations.” These private conversations could include the very conduct and attitudes that the body cameras are designed to detect in the first place.

Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are charged with a crime, you will need the assistance of a trained and experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact the experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley and schedule a consultation today. We can discuss your case and determine what we can do to help you. If you are not charged with a crime, but a loved one is, please also feel free to call.

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