Explaining the New Eavesdropping Law in Illinois

Illinois recently passed a bill called SB 1342, but it is more commonly being referred to as the new Eavesdropping Law.

There has been a lot of speculation and misinformation about this bill, with some saying it’s now illegal to film the police while others are claiming it gives the police too much power to eavesdrop on citizens. Today, we break down some key points of the Eavesdropping Law so everyone can get a better understanding of the actual regulations.

Eavesdropping Law

1. You Can Still Record The Police

Simply put, you can still record the police, you just aren’t allowed to eavesdrop on them. The law states that citizens may record an interaction so long as the involved parties don’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy. For example, if you see a police officer arresting a resisting suspect on the sidewalk, you are more than welcome to record the ordeal. If you are pulled over for speeding, you can certainly record the interaction with the cop. On the other hand, you’re not allowed to wiretap a phone or a squad car and collect information between parties who have a reasonable expectation of privacy, like in their home or office. Most times, police conduct their duties in the public sphere, so you are well within your right to record them.

2. Eavesdropping Penalties Lowered

Prior to this law, illegally recording a law enforcement officer or judicial official was met with a Class 1 felony. Under the new legislation, it’s still a felony to illegally record officers and judges, but the penalty has been reduced to a Class 3 felony.

3. Police Have More Leeway To Eavesdrop

This point may sound disconcerting, but the ability to eavesdrop on a conversation where a person could reasonable expect privacy only applies if the person in question is suspected of committing one of the following offenses: first degree murder, solicitation of murder for hire, predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual assault, aggravated arson, kidnapping, aggravated kidnapping, child abduction, trafficking in persons, involuntary servitude, involuntary sexual servitude of a minor, or gunrunning.

Prior to SB 1342, police needed to obtain a warrant “within 48 hours of the commencement of such use.” If they didn’t get the warrant within two days they had to stop attempting to eavesdrop without consent. Now, they can continue without a warrant after 48 hours.

4. Reasonable, Reasonable, Reasonable

As we mentioned in the first point, the whole bill hinges on the term “reasonable” expectation of privacy. There are limitless situations where one party may wish to record an interaction, so there’s no possible way to have a cut and dry law where everything either is or isn’t legal. For example, you may have a reasonable expectation of privacy in your home, but if the police come busting in, you are certainly welcome to record them without asking for their permission.

So if you see something and want to record it, ask yourself this question. “Would the involved parties have a reasonable expectation of privacy?” This is very different from the question, “If I were in their shoes, would I want to be recorded?” The cop may not want his use of excessive force recorded or the shoplifter may not like that his pants fell down to his ankles while running away because he forgot a belt, but if it happens in the public domain, you are well within your rights to record the interaction.

If you have any questions about the bill, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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Summer Jobs Linked To Drop in Violent Crime

Summer job ChicagoA study conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago Crime Lab found that summer jobs can drastically reduce a teen’s likelihood of being arrested for a violent crime.

The study analyzed behavioral pattens in three groups of teens in Chicago over the course of 16 months. Over 1,600 students were assigned to one of three summer groups: The Chicago One Summer Plus program (work), The Chicago One Summer Plus program plus social-emotional support (work+support), and the control group, who were not given a spot in the program. They were free to do as they pleased during the summer, but for the sake of this post, we’ll group them as the “no work” or control faction. Researchers wanted to see if the program truly did have an impact on youth violent crime rates, as study author Sarah Heller said she heard arguments from both sides about the program’s effectiveness.

“There are opposing pieces of conventional wisdom on whether a program like this would work,” said Heller. “On one hand is the popular idea that ‘nothing stops a bullet like a job.’ On the other is a body of research on employment programs suggesting that only intensive and lengthy interventions can improve outcomes among disadvantaged youth—that one summer could never be enough.”

Those in the work group worked 25 hours a week during the summer. Teens in the work+support group were paid for 25 hours of work per week, but they worked for 15 hours and received 10 hours of social-emotional support each week. Social-emotional support was designed to help students understand and manage thoughts, emotions and behaviors.

Study Results

At the conclusion of the 16-month period, researchers noted that the work and work+support groups were equally effective in reducing violent crime arrests by about 43 percent.

“The city of Chicago was courageous enough to put its One Summer Plus program to the test, and turns out that just eight weeks of summer programming decreases violent crime arrests by a huge amount for over a year after the job ends,” said Heller. “This is an incredibly encouraging finding.”

Roseanna Ander, executive director of the Chicago Crime Lab, said the results are especially worthwhile considering the demographics of the teens in the program. The majority were about 16 years old, almost all were African American, the typical student had about a C average in school, and many lived in areas of high unemployment and very high violent crime rates. She said it’s never too late to help teens in challenging situations.

“The One Summer Plus evaluation builds on other encouraging recent study findings, including those carried out by the Crime Lab, that suggest it’s not too late to help young people, even those who face serious challenges and come from disadvantaged backgrounds.”

Related source: News.UChicago.edu

Chicago Police To Wear Body Cameras in Pilot Program

Police Body CamerasIf you’re stopped by a Chicago police officer in the coming months, you’ll want to smile, because you might be on camera.

According to Chicago police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, some Chicago police officers will begin wearing body cameras within the next 60 days as part of a pilot program.

McCarthy didn’t go into too much detail about the program, but he believes they’ll help provide an impartial view into what transpired during a citizen encounter. He noted that many officers volunteered to be part of the program.

“We have a number of officers who have volunteered because that’s how we’re going to handle it initially,” McCarthy said. “I endorse the program. I would say within 60 days we’ll be up and running.”

Proponents of the body cameras believe they’ll work two-fold to prevent issues. First, they’ll keep officers on their best behavior as they know their actions are being recorded, likely reducing the number of police brutality suits, and secondly they’ll preventing citizens from making baseless accusations against police officers. The U.S. Justice Department cautioned that there is not a lot of evidence to suggest body cameras will cut down on police-citizen problems, but the cameras certainly worked for officers in Rialto, California.

McCarthy didn’t elaborate, but it’s possible the move to begin the pilot program was a response to the recent Grand Jury decision in Ferguson, Missouri. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few weeks, you’re aware of the Grand Jury’s decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed an unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown on August 9. The decision not to indict the white officer in the shooting death of a black teen led to demonstrations across the nation, including in Chicago. Had Wilson been wearing one of the cameras, we’d have a much clearly idea of what truly transpired on that early August day.

Brett Appelman comments

Just like I said last month when lawmakers were discussing exactly how a body camera program would be used, I fully support the idea. I noted the question was more of “when” officers would get than “if” they would get them, and it appears we’ll begin seeing them in the next 60 days.

I’ve dealt with cases where both my client and the officer on the stand have bent the truth or shaped the narrative to support their case. With video evidence, we’ll have an impartial third party at the scene to tell us exactly what happened. I look forward to seeing these recordings being presented as evidence in future trials.

Related source: Chicago Tribune

Illinois Police Add DUI Patrols For Thanksgiving Weekend

Drunk TurkeyThe night before Thanksgiving is often one of the most popular drinking nights of the year, and Illinois police are taking extra measures to cut down on the number of drunk drivers.

Thanksgiving and Black Friday are two of the more well-known days on the extended holiday weekend, but it’s tonight -Blackout Wednesday as it is known by some young people – that is of the most concern to local police.

“Obviously stores will be busy, we have plenty of establishments here which will be serving liquor,” said Batavia police director Kevin Bretz. “But we’re prepared for anything that comes up.”

Batavia police aren’t the only ones amping up their DUI patrols. Similar to years past, Kane County will be conducting a “No Refusal” program. Under normal circumstances, a person does not need to submit to a blood or breath test unless they give consent or an officer presents the suspect with a warrant. A warrant typically takes a few hours to be approved by a judge, but tonight and through this weekend judges will be available to sign off on search warrants around the clock. This means suspected drunk drivers will be required to submit to a test once presented with a search warrant or face the consequences.

The Geneva Police Department is also letting residents know that’s they’ll be stepping up DUI patrols. The department will have two extra squad cars out on the roads between 9 p.m. Wednesday and 3 a.m Thursday to catch any patrons who drive home from the bar when they should be in a cab.

“The purpose is to be proactive and hopefully deter poor decisions on the part of drivers,” said Geneva patrol operations commander Julie Nash.

Added police presence and better decisions from drivers should help reduce the number of fatal and non-fatal accidents this holiday weekend. Last year seven people died in car accidents during Thanksgiving weekend, and three of those crashes involved a drunk driver. In all, 723 drivers suffered an injury in a car accident over the holiday weekend last year.

Brett Appelman Comments

Make good decisions out there tonight. The night before Thanksgiving is one of the biggest nights for drunk drivers of the year. Not only are you more likely to get pulled over if you drive drunk, you could end up injured if you are struck by a drunk driver.

Plan a ride home before you start drinking. A $40 cab ride is much better than a $10,000 DUI bill because you made a poor choice. If you do end up in a rough spot this weekend, give us a call at (630) 717-7801. Have a wonderful holiday!

Related source: Chicago Tribune

Illinois State Bar Attempting To Change DUI Law

Illinois Marijuana DUIThe Illinois state bar association is attempting to change the state’s current DUI law in the wake of a tragic accident.

The incident that spurred the call for change occurred back in December 2011 when Scott Shirey was driving his two 10-year-old twins to swimming practice. Along the way their car was t-boned by a distracted driver who ran a red light. One of Shirey’s kids died in the crash, and the other was severely injured.

Despite adhering to traffic laws, Shirey faced the possibility of 14 years in prison because a blood test found he had marijuana in his system. His attorney said Shirey admitted to smoking marijuana, but that was a month prior to the crash. His attorney argued that he clearly wasn’t under the influence at the time of the accident.

“Nothing can possibly illustrate this idiotic law more than the Scott Shirey case,” defense attorney Patrick O’Byrne said. “It’s incomprehensible how bad the law is. It’s a worst-case scenario, charged with the homicide of your own son for smoking pot that had nothing to do with the accident.”

Knowing that there was little they could do to challenge the law as it was written, Shirey decided his only option was to plead guilty. He was sentenced to 30 months of probation, while the driver who caused the crash received two months of periodic imprisonment and nine months of home confinement.

“We had no choice. We had no defense,” O’Byrne said. “Thank God the judge gave him probation instead of prison.”

Acting on what they believe is a travesty of justice, the Illinois State Bar Association submitted a bill to change the current law. They said the DUI statute shouldn’t apply to drivers who aren’t under the influence at the time of an accident or at fault for causing the accident.

Related source: Daily Herald

Chicago Woman Ticketed For Going Topless

Public indecency illinoisAmericans are endowed with the freedom to bear arms, but a Chicago woman has filed a federal lawsuit after being ticketed for baring her breasts.

Sonoko Tagami, 41, a stauch supporter of the bare-chested advocacy group GoTopless, filed the federal lawsuit after she was ticketed for appearing topless in public back in August. Police issued Tagami a $140 ticket for violating Chicago’s decency law, which states:

Any person who shall appear, bathe, sunbathe, walk or be in any public park, playground, beach or the waters adjacent thereto, or any school facility and the area adjacent thereto, or any municipal building and the areas adjacent thereto, or any public way within the City of Chicago in such a manner that the genitals, vulva, pubis, pubic hair, buttocks, perineum, anus, anal region, or pubic hair region of any person, or any portion of the breast at or below the upper edge of the areola thereof of any female person, is exposed to public view or is not covered by an opaque covering, shall be fined not less than $100.00 nor more than $500.00 for each offense.

In her lawsuit, Tagami claims the city statute is purposely vague and is a violation of free speech. She also claims the law is sexually discriminant.

“It’s a poorly written, very very old ordinance that would, I think, make illegal many of the fashions that women wear today,” said Tagami’s attorney Kenneth Flaxman. “She believed she had appropriate body paint covering the naughty parts of her breasts.”

Flaxman also noted that Tagami has been participating in topless demonstrations in years past and has never had any issues with city officers.

“She was out there for several years making a statement about the absurdity of the law, and each time she had opaque body paint and the cops thought it was cute,” Flaxman said. “l guess this time the cops didn’t think it was OK.”

Tagami is hoping the federal case will call attention to the law and her cause.

Related source: Chicago Tribune

Examining Crime on Illinois College Campuses

Illinois Campus CrimeA report on crime on college campuses found that more sexual offenses occur at the University of Illinois than any other state school, but another school is home to more robberies and aggravated assaults.

Considering the University of Illinois has nearly twice as many enrolled students than any other school on the list, it’s not too surprising it tops the list, but it’s the University of Illinois at Chicago that has the most reported robberies and aggravated assaults. UIC is second in the state in enrollment with 27,589 enrolled students.

The annual campus security reports are due each year by October 1 and are required under the Clery Act, which was established in 1991. The Clery Act was established after 19-year-old Jeanne Clery was raped and murdered in her Lehigh University dorm room in 1986.

Campuses are required to report all crimes that fall under these seven categories.

  • Criminal homicide
  • Sex offenses
  • Robbery
  • Aggravated assault
  • Burglary
  • Motor vehicle theft
  • Arson

Campus Statistics

Three of the most common offenses committed on college campuses are sexual offenses, assaults and robberies. Below, you can see which state schools reported the most of each offense in 2013.

Sex Offenses

1. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – 20 reports.

2. Northern Illinois University – 12 reports.

3. Eastern Illinois University – 11 reports.

Assaults

1. University of Illinois at Chicago – 36 reports.

2. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – 23 reports.

3. Southern Illinois University Carbondale – 16 reports.

Robberies

1. University of Illinois at Chicago – 16 reports.

2. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – 12 reports.

3. Northern Illinois University – 6 reports.

Thankfully, no murders occurred on Illinois college campuses in 2013. For an in-depth look at the statistics, check out this infographic.

Related source: Huffington Post