Illinois Court: Eavesdropping Law Unconstitutional

By: Shannon Smith; AP
By: Shannon Smith; AP

UPDATE: ILLINOIS (WIFR) – People may not necessarily need our permission to record a conversation anymore after the Illinois Supreme Court finds our current eavesdropping law unconstitutional.

“I will be aware of it, now that I know.”

“That’s just not right and who does that?”

To some of us, it’s a constant worry – being recorded without permission.

“I’ve seen the videos on Facebook and be like you can’t really be doing that and someone’s recording you," said Rockford resident Linda Fultz.

Now we may want to be more careful of what we do or say since technically, snooping on someone and recording it isn’t a felony anymore.

“As it stands right now, audio recording or video recording with audio has no restrictions in the state of Illinois,” said Attorney Chuck Prorok.

The Illinois Supreme Court just found the state’s current eavesdropping law unconstitutional. The law said it was illegal to record someone over the phone or in person without consent.

“You need to be very careful about what you do.”

This means you could be recorded without your knowledge and the person doing it doesn’t need your permission.

Winnebago County State’s Attorney Joe Bruscato says the court’s decision opens the door for a new law, however he says police will still have restrictions on what they can record during investigations.

“We certainly want to make sure we’re proceeding in a way that’s legal and that we’re not violating people’s constitutional rights," says Bruscato.

It’ll be up to the Illinois General Assembly to decide those limits.

Bruscato says eavesdropping cases aren’t that common here in Winnebago County, however he says now he’ll have to wait before bringing charges against anyone.


CHICAGO (AP) -- The Illinois Supreme Court has declared the state's decades-old eavesdropping law unconstitutional.

In the unanimous decision released Thursday, Illinois' highest court found the statute violates the free speech and due process protections of the U.S. and Illinois constitutions.

The 1961 Illinois Eavesdropping Act made it a felony for someone to produce an audio recording of a conversation unless all parties agree.

But the court found the statute, as written, was far too broad. Among other findings, the court says it criminalizes recordings that are clearly public.

The central figure in the ruling is Annabel Melongo. She was charged under the law in 2010 for recording a Cook County court official. She spent more than a year in jail awaiting trial. The jury in her case couldn't reach a verdict.


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