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Illinois State Police Will Use Drones for Surveillance

 Posted on June 03, 2015 in Your Rights

Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal lawyer, illegal searches,Drones have now become a reality of law enforcement, and are a technology that any criminal defense attorney will have to become familiar with. Whether they are using them for surveillance, investigation, or other purposes, law enforcement will be utilizing these tools in the near future. In fact, one police agency here in Illinois has already announced its intent to do so.

Illinois State Police Plan to Use Drones

It was reported that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has given the Illinois State Police permission to use drones. The state police currently plan to use the drones to photograph crash and crime scenes. On an interesting note, they are not calling the drones “drones.” Instead, they are referring to them as “unmanned aircraft.” They claim that they are not currently implementing their program for surveillance purposes.

Illinois Has a Law about Drone Surveillance

Illinois has passed a law regarding drone surveillance, known as the Freedom from Drone Surveillance Act. This law limits when law enforcement agencies are allowed to use drones for surveillance, but it certainly does not prohibit them from doing so. Law enforcement agencies are allowed to use drones for surveillance if any of the following circumstances apply:

  • They are countering a high-risk terrorist attack by a specific individual or organization and the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security has determined that the intelligence indicates there is a credible threat. This is the only terrorism-related reason for use. All of the others relate to general law enforcement tasks;
  • The law enforcement agency has obtained a search warrant, which can be good for 45 days and can be renewed for an additional 45 days;
  • The law enforcement agency has reasonable suspicion that swift action is need to prevent imminent harm to life or prevent the imminent escape of a suspect or the destruction of evidence;
  • The law enforcement agency is attempting to locate a missing person and is not also undertaking a criminal investigation; or
  • The law enforcement agency is using the drone exclusively for crime scene or traffic accident scene photography. If this occurs on private property they must get a search warrant.

Between their ability to get a warrant (which only requires probable cause) and their ability to use drones to prevent evidence destruction or escape, law enforcement still has a fairly broad license to use this type of surveillance in criminal cases. Additionally, in prosecutions related to traffic offenses like driving while intoxicated, drone used in collecting accident footage may become another tool that is used by both sides like dashboard camera footage.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

No matter how the police investigate you, being investigated can be a daunting and scary process. The same is true with being charged with a crime. If you are going through either of these experiences, you need the help of a passionate Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney. If you are charged in Rolling Meadows, you should call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley at (847)394-3200 to discuss your case.

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