Home / Badge Abuse / Illinois Just Made it a Felony for Its Citizens to Record the Police and the Media is Silent

Illinois Just Made it a Felony for Its Citizens to Record the Police and the Media is Silent

Only a government that lives like cockroaches in the darkness would pass a law criminalizing the act of turning on the light.

filming-the-police-illegal-illinois

Illinois — In March of this year the Illinois Supreme Court struck down the state’s eavesdropping law, and rightfully so, as it was touted as the most unconstitutional law of its kind in the country.

But Illinois, being the the corrupt and violent police state that it is, couldn’t let their police and other government officials be held accountable by its citizens.

The bill is back, and with a vengeance.

The Amendment to Senate Bill 1342 was introduced on Tuesday, Dec. 2, as an amendment to an existing bill on a completely different subject. The amendment removed all of the bill’s previous content and replaced it with the new ban on recording. The House passed it the following day, and the Senate passed it the day after that.

This bill passed both the Illinois House and Senate with overwhelming majority votes; 106-7 in the House on and 46-4-1 in the Senate. Democrats and Republicans alike slipped this bill by the citizens as they were debating on whether the General Assembly would raise the state’s minimum wage or make the 67% temporary income tax hike permanent, neither of which passed.

According to IllinoisPolicy.org, the bill discourages people from recording conversations with police by making unlawfully recording a conversation with police – or an attorney general, assistant attorney general, state’s attorney, assistant state’s attorney or judge – a class 3 felony, which carries a sentence of two to four years in prison. Meanwhile, the bill makes illegal recording of a private citizen a class 4 felony, which carries a lower sentencing range of one to three years in prison.

There’s only one apparent reason for imposing a higher penalty on people who record police in particular: to make people especially afraid to record police. That is not a legitimate purpose. And recent history suggests it’s important that people not be afraid to record police wherever they perform their duties so that officers will be more likely to respect citizens’ rights, and officers who do respect citizens’ rights will be able to prove it.

Below is some of the vague wording from this legislation.

(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

The wording in this bill is also written in such a way that it could stifle the recent police accountability measures of body cameras. Police may argue that using body cameras to record encounters with citizens outside of “public” places would violate the law, as citizens have not consented to being recorded.

Only a government that lives like cockroaches in the darkness would pass a law criminalizing the act of turning on the light.

Transparency and accountability in government are what prevent tyranny. When the state passes laws which prevent these things, the direction in which they are trying to move is obvious.

Other than a few small media outlets covering this blow to free speech, the MSM has been largely silent. Please help expose it, by sharing this story to expose this horrible blow to government accountability.

We can also stop this bill by calling the office of Illinois governor, Pat Quinn, at 312-814-2121, and demand that he veto the Amendment to Senate Bill 1342. Or you can email him at this link.

Update: Dec. 10 10:36 am:

This story has caused quite the stirring conversation out there on the web. Some media outlets are reporting that it doesn’t make recording police officers illegal, while others are corroborating our report.

The legislation clearly states, as we show above, that recording any law enforcement or government official during any private communication will be considered eavesdropping; a felony,  punishable by jail time.

Private communication is defined in the legislation as such:

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.

Reasonable expectation is defined in the legislation as such:

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.

The problem arises when we try to define reasonable expectation, it is left up to arbitrary interpretation. As per the legislation: any police officer, at any time, in Illinois can simply say they have a reasonable expectation of privacy and therefore charge a person filming with a felony.

It would be particularly naive, especially when looking at their recent history of doing so, for anyone to assume that Illinois police would not use this bill to arrest people who film them.

There is however, a simple fix to this problem of a vaguely defined law and that is to clearly define it. Add a line which clearly states that “filming police in public is a constitutionally protected right and cannot be infringed.”

  • ralph

    You must be aware that one of the first bills sponsor was a female Democrat. Someone should interview her to find out why.