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Is It Legal to Record the Police in Illinois?

Posted on in Lake County Defense Attorney

record the police, Skokie criminal defense lawyerWith tensions increasing between law enforcement officers and some communities across the United States and in Illinois, the practice of recording police officers performing their duties has grown in popularity. At the same time, it is also increasingly drawing criticism from many police departments. The question is a legitimate one: Is it against the law to record the police?

Previous Eavesdropping Law

Under the old Illinois eavesdropping law, it was illegal to record a conversation, even a public conversation, without the consent of both parties. However, in 2014, both the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and the Illinois Supreme Court found the law was unconstitutional because it was overbroad and infringed on protected free speech rights.

Difference Between Public and Private

Today, it is still illegal to record a private conversation without the consent of both parties in Illinois. However, you are allowed to legally video or audio record conversations and events taking place in public, without anyone’s consent. This generally includes recording law enforcement officers making arrests or performing their duties. However, there are still limits regarding what you are allowed to do.

What You Cannot Do

Most importantly, you cannot interfere with police officers performing their duties. This means that you cannot physically block a police officer in any way as you are trying to record them. You are also not allowed to try and intimidate or threaten a police officer. For example, if you told a police officer that you were recording them and they would “pay for what they are doing”, you could be arrested for making a threat against the police officer.

In addition, you are required to follow lawful directions of police officers. This can cause some trouble if the police order you to stop recording. If you do not stop recording, you may be arrested for disorderly conduct or interference with a police officer. The question would then become whether or not the order was lawful. You may have a defense if it was not. However, you may also be convicted if the prosecution can show that the police were reasonable in their request and that there was a legal justification for the order to stop recording.

We all have an interest in living in a free society where law enforcement is accountable to the people. While recording the police can help accountability efforts, the recording itself can still put you at risk for arrest.

If you have been charged with a crime, you need to speak with a skilled Lake County criminal defense lawyer. Call 847-239-4703 to schedule a consultation right away. Do not speak to anyone about your case until you have talked to a lawyer. Let us help you protect your rights.

Sources:

http://www.illinoiscourts.gov/Opinions/SupremeCourt/2014/114852.pdf

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