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Archive for the ‘First Amendment’ tag

Illinois’ Strict Revenge Porn Law

July 13th, 2015 at 3:35 pm

Illinois defense lawyer, Illinois criminal attorney,, Google made big news recently when it announced its decision to remove nude or sexually explicit images posted on the internet without consent from its search results. The practice of posting private sexual images without the consent of the person in the pictures is commonly referred to as “revenge porn.” This name comes from the practice of jilted lovers posting intimate pictures of an ex once a romantic relationship has ended. Historically there were few laws governing this practice. However, Illinois recently passed a strict criminal law that deals with this issue.

Illinois Passed a Strict Law against Revenge Porn

In December of last year, former Governor Quinn signed a strict anti-revenge porn law into effect before leaving office. This law goes so far as to make it a felony to post sexually explicit photos or videos of another person online without his or her consent. This new law just went into effect on June 1. The crime is a Class 4 felony, which can be punished by one to three years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. Additionally, if a person who posts these images makes money off of them or receives any goods in exchange for posting them, the law requires that the money or goods be forfeited. The law does not just cover pornographic websites. It also prohibits the posting of these images without consent on other types of websites, including social media websites.

Many states still have no laws making revenge porn a crime. What makes Illinois somewhat unique is that not only does state law make this practice criminal, it actually makes it a felony. This means that people convicted under the law may face long-term consequences in addition to any imprisonment or fine. Convicted felons lose rights to gun ownership, for example. They can also lose the right to sit on a jury or vote in certain parts of the country. Sometimes felons are not eligible for government assistance, and a felony conviction can seriously impact a person’s ability to get and keep a job despite “ban the box” laws.

What about the First Amendment?

Some critics of this type of law argue that they violate our right to freedom of speech under the First Amendment. Obviously the Illinois law has not been litigated yet, being that it is brand new. However, laws in other states have been challenged by organizations like the ACLU on these very grounds. Only time will tell how First Amendment arguments play out regarding these laws and Illinois’ law specifically.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

When you have been charged with a crime, you have many important decisions to make. The first decision you should make is to obtain the help of an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney. Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley. We will fight for you. Call us today at (847)394-3200.

High Tech Tools Used for Police Surveillance

November 13th, 2014 at 7:56 pm

hidden cameras, Illinois criminal defense attorney, legal rights, According to recent report, law enforcement officials in communities across the country, in small towns and big cities alike, are using increasingly sophisticated technology for police surveillance purposes. Some of that technology includes ultra high definition cameras, programs that are able to read license plates and recognize faces, as well as systems that can alert police to suspicious behavior. With such access into the lives of citizens, some are saying that such monitoring is a serious threat to privacy and strict guidelines need to be in place regarding how police use this technology.

The Need for Regulations

When invasive technology is used for police surveillance, private citizens often have a number of concerns. These range from rules regarding how the technology can legally be used to the disposal of the recorded footage that does not relate to criminal charges or the investigation of a crime. The main problem, and likely a substantial part of the reason such rules and guidelines have not been advanced, is that technology is developing at a faster pace than laws can keep pace with.

The reality is that few laws actually exist governing how police can use much of the technology already in place. A small percentage of states have laws regarding some of the technology, and the rest usually leave it up to police departments to create rules, but most fail to do so. Of those that do have such policies, they are often not thorough or effectively address many of the privacy concerns raised.

The fear is that although such technology is intended for legitimate use by police, it can also be subject to abuse either for personal tracking or random investigations that have no clear purpose. These secondary uses can pose a significant threat to protections afforded by the First Amendment. Still, some argue that the potential for abuse should not demean the use of the same technology for legitimate purposes.

In Chicago

Law enforcement officials in Chicago certainly use the latest technology in surveillance tools, and some say the networks they use are among the most sophisticated in the country. The technology used includes modern cameras that can view a subject from all angles at a high resolution, the collection and storage of large amount of information, and the analysis and identification of a specific activity. The databases used to store all of this information are virtually limitless. In fact, Chicago is known to have the country’s most extensive and connected network of cameras, at approximately 25,000.

Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with a crime in the Chicago area, the experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley are prepared to advise you of your rights in light of the facts of your specific matter. Please feel free to contact us today to schedule a consultation. We have successful experience serving clients in Cook County and the surrounding area.

Illinois Supreme Court Rules on Recorded Conversations

April 25th, 2014 at 12:19 pm

recorded conversation, privacy, divorce, child support, Illinois criminal defense lawyerThe 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.

Court’s Holding

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.

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