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Archive for the ‘new laws in Illinois’ tag

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.

Illinois Lawmakers take Aim at Revenge Porn

February 22nd, 2014 at 12:03 pm

social media & Revenge PornThe increased and widespread use of technology and social media has brought up a whole new host of issues regarding conduct online. While we still struggle to define appropriate online behavior in some aspects, it can be argued that perhaps the law is struggling to keep up with actions that occur on the web. When discussing the damaging effects of online behavior, we often hear key words such as “cyber bullying” and “sexting,” but what it really comes down to may be described as harassment in the legal arena.

What is Revenge Porn?

Lawmakers in Illinois are taking notice and taking action to address these problems. According to an article recently published by the Chicago Tribune, the state is taking steps to give victims of revenge porn an outlet in court. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, revenge porn refers to the act of an individual posting an inappropriate photo or video of their ex-boyfriend or girlfriend online as a way to get back at them after the failure of the relationship.

Proposed Law

Lawmakers in Illinois are trying to prevent such an embarrassing event by proposing a new measure that would make it illegal to post such content on the internet without the consent of the subject of the photo or video. Senator Michael Hastings, who is sponsoring the proposal, compared the publishing of such explicit material to harassment, and said it was the worst kind of cyber bullying.

Proponents say the law is necessary because current Illinois statutory law fails to provide criminal sanctions as a consequence for such behavior. The state’s statutes do not protect the victims of such crime, who most likely consented to the photo or video initially, as the image was recorded in the context of a private, trusting relationship.

The proposed law would make it a felony to post nude and sexually explicit images of another party without their permission to do so. In addition, under the law, it would be a crime to request a fee in order to remove such images from a website. The penalties associated with the law would include a maximum of three years in prison and a $25,000.00 fine. However, judges would maintain discretion to order a lesser sentence if they thought doing so was appropriate.

Opposition

Those who are opposed to the law argue that making such action a criminal offense would infringe on the constitutional right to free speech. Specifically, the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois takes the position that the state’s civil laws may be more appropriate to address such behavior, and should be considered as a solution to the issue before the activity is made a crime under state criminal law.

Criminal law and procedure may change more than the average public person is aware. That is why engaging the services of a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney in Illinois is so important. Contact us today if you have been charged with a crime, and let us protect your rights.

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