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U.S. Supreme Court Declines to Review Illinois Ban on Recording Police Officers

Posted on in Criminal Defense

According to a breaking Chicago Tribune article, the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear a further appeal to the constitutionality of the controversial Illinois anti-eavesdropping law that bans people from recording police officers. In doing so, the Court left an appellate court ruling in place that found the law to violate free-speech rights when used against people who record police officers. After that June court ruling, a federal judge issued a temporary injunction that effectively prevents prosecution of anyone under the current law. The American Civil Liberties Union, who filed the initial lawsuit against Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, has now requested that the federal judge make the temporary injunction permanent, which would effectively stop all enforcement of the law on a statewide basis.

The Illinois law in question has been a source of controversy since its inception. It is one of the most severe eavesdropping laws in the nation; under the current law, anyone who makes an audio recording of any law enforcement officer, even while on duty, could be convicted of a felony, punishable by as much as 15 years in prison. Two Illinois counties later declared the law unconstitutional, a Cook County jury acquitted a woman charged under the law in 2011, and the McLean County state’s attorney dropped charges against a man, citing flaws in the law. Efforts to amend the law so far, however, have stalled in committee as law enforcement groups continue to lobby in favor of the current law.

Conversations that take place between law enforcement officials and persons accused of committing crimes often produce essential pieces of evidence used in the prosecution of crimes. Therefore, the ability of a defendant or another person to record interactions with law enforcement can be crucial, especially when accounts differ as to what occurred.

If you or a family member is accused of a crime, you will need the immediate assistance of a skilled Illinois criminal defense attorney. Contact our office today for a thorough evaluation of your situation and the options that may be available to you.

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