The state of Illinois may pass legislation making it a felony to “eavesdrop” on any oral communication between an officer and another citizen while the police officer is conducting their official duties. This also applies to the recording of a judge, State Attorney, Assistant State Attorney, the Attorney General and Assistant Attorney General. The legislation for consideration states as follows:
(a) Eavesdropping, for a first offense, is a Class 4 felony (from Ch. 38, par. 14-4) and, for a second or subsequent offense, is a Class 3 felony.
(b) The eavesdropping of an oral conversation or an electronic communication of any law enforcement officer, State’s Attorney, Assistant State’s Attorney, the Attorney General, Assistant Attorney General, or a judge, while in the performance of his or her official duties, if not authorized by this Article or proper court order, is a Class 3 felony, and for a second or subsequent offenses, is a Class 2 felony.
This applies to private conversations albeit as public as an officer speaking to a citizen in the street is, people are now required to not become involved if it does not involve them. If they fail to comply, this may be punishable by jail time.
The legislation defines “private conversation” as follows:
For the purposes of this Article, “private conversation” means any oral communication between 2 or more persons, whether in person or transmitted between the parties by wire or other means, when one or more of the parties intended the communication to be of a private nature under circumstances reasonably justifying that expectation.
What is deemed as a private conversation will be up to a police officer’s discretion allowing them to use the new legislation as they see fit. They may have a reasonable expectation that their encounter with a citizen is private and may ask those around not to record and therefore minimize the involvement of the public when police are questioning or arresting another citizen.
The legislation further describes reasonable expectation:
A reasonable expectation shall include any expectation recognized by law, including, but not limited to, an expectation derived from a privilege, immunity, or right established by common law, Supreme Court rule, or the Illinois or United States Constitution.
What are your thoughts about this new legislation? Should bystanders be allowed to become involved if they feel a fellow citizen is being treated unjustly?
Recording Police is Now a Felony in Illinois