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Illinois Teen Charged With Felony for Eavesdropping

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When a school-aged child is sent to the principal’s office, he or she is usually in trouble. Of course, the type of trouble is usually related to behavior in school or on school grounds. A meeting with the principal often results in the student receiving detention or being suspended for violating school rules. For a 13-year-old-boy in Kankakee County, however, a trip to the principal’s office resulted in juvenile felony charges for violating Illinois’s controversial eavesdropping law.

A Quick Recap

In February of this year, the teen was called down to the principal’s office at his middle school in Manteno School District in Kankakee County. The teen had reportedly failed to show up for series of detentions. Before the boy entered the office, he started recording audio with his cell phone.

According to reports , the teen argued with both the principal and assistant principal for about 10 minutes in the school secretary’s office—where the door was open to a main school hallway. At some point, the boy told the two administrators that he was recording the conversation. The principal reportedly told the teen that he was committing a felony and cut the meeting off immediately. Several weeks later, the teen was charged with one Class 4 felony count for eavesdropping.

The Charge

According to the charge filed by State’s Attorney’s office, the teen “used a cellphone to surreptitiously record a private conversation between the minor and school officials without the consent of all parties.” The law in question is one that has come under intense scrutiny in recent years and has the been an issue in many high-profile cases. Most of them, however, have involved filming the police or recording court proceedings.

The Law

In response to previous cases, including a decision by the Illinois Supreme Court to allow citizens to record interactions with the police, the Illinois legislature and then-Governor Pat Quinn passed a new eavesdropping law in late 2014. The law confirmed Illinois’s status as an “all-party consent” state, which means that everyone who is being recorded must agree to the recording. The statute also created a confusing standard regarding how and when consent must be obtained. It is this law that makes it a felony to record a private conversation where at least one party has a “reasonable expectation” of privacy.

In the Kankakee County teen’s case, many are questioning the reasonable expectation of privacy in a public school setting—particularly when a conversation is not being held behind closed doors. “How are you expecting that to be private?” asked Attorney Saleem Mamdani, who recently prepared a seminar on the eavesdropping law for the Illinois State Bar Association. “You are relying on the fact that you had this conversation in imposing current and future discipline.”

It is hard to say whether this case will set a precedent for future eavesdropping cases, but with recording devices such as smartphones, Google Home, and Amazon Echo becoming more and more popular, the law will likely need to be addressed sooner than later.

Contact Us for Help

If your son or daughter has been charged with any type of juvenile offense, you need an experienced Joliet juvenile defense attorney who will protect his or her rights. Call 815-740-4025 for a free consultation at the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba today.

Illinois Man Charged With Hate Crime for Painting Swastikas on Graves

joliet hate crime attorney

Memorial Day is a holiday in the United States when citizens remember the men and women who died while serving in the military, often visiting cemeteries and memorials to honor the fallen soldiers. Unfortunately, this past Memorial Day weekend, a southern Illinois cemetery was vandalized with images of swastikas painted on gravestones just days before Memorial Day. Those facing criminal charges related to vandalism should understand the potential consequences, especially if their activity could be considered a hate crime.

Man Charged With Vandalism and Hate Crimes, Among Other Things

A 34-year-old Glen Carbon man was arrested less than 24 hours after hundreds of swastikas were found to have been painted on multiple graves in Sunset Hill Cemetery and on homes and vehicles in nearby Edwardsville. The man, who lives near the cemetery, is being charged with 14 counts of criminal damage to property, four counts of hate crimes, three counts of institutional vandalism, and one count of violating the Cemetery Protection Act. The man is currently in police custody on two separate bonds of $100,000 each--one for the crimes committed in Glen Carbon and the other for the vandalism in the Edwardsville neighborhood.

Act of Vandalism Is Being Charged As a Hate Crime

Because the crime occurred days before Memorial Day services took place at the cemetery, many were keen to call this act of vandalism a hate crime. Most notably, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) expressed their support of going forward with prosecution of the act as a hate crime, citing that the swastika is well known for being a universal symbol for hate.

Illinois Hate Crime Laws and Consequences

According to Article 12 of the Illinois Criminal Code , a hate crime takes place when a person commits any of the following crimes for a biased reason:

• Assault;

• Battery;

• Aggravated assault;

• Intimidation;

• Stalking;

• Cyberstalking;

• Misdemeanor theft;

• Criminal trespass to residence or vehicle;

• Misdemeanor criminal damage to property;

• Mob action;

• Disorderly conduct;

• Harassment by telephone or through electronic communications; or

• Transmission of obscene messages.

If a person commits a crime due any of the following reasons, it is a hate crime:

• Race;

• Creed;

• Religion;

• Color;

• Ancestry;

• Gender;

• Sexual orientation;

• Physical or mental disability; or

• National origin of a person or group of people.

The criminal code also states that a hate crime is a Class 4 felony for a first offense and a Class 2 felony for a second or subsequent offense. A first offense is classified as a Class 3 felony if the crime is committed in a:

• Church, synagogue, mosque, or other place for religious worship;

• Cemetery, mortuary, or other place used for burying or memorializing the dead;

• School or other educational facility; or

• Public park or an ethnic or religious community center.

A hate crime can also be charged as a Class 3 felony for a first-time offense if the crime was committed on public property within 1,000 feet of any of the aforementioned locations.

Man Faces Multiple Felony Charges

In the case of the Glen Carbon man, he is being charged with multiple felony charges for his crimes. His criminal damage to property charges are classified as Class 4 felonies, which carry a possible sentence of one to three years in jail. The hate crimes, institutional vandalism, and violation of the Cemetery Protection Act are all classified as Class 2 felonies, and each carry a possible sentence of three to seven years in jail.

Contact a Joliet Criminal Defense Attorney

Hate crimes are serious offenses, so if you are facing these charges, it is in your best interest to immediately contact a skilled Will County criminal defense lawyer. To schedule a free consultation, contact our office at 815-740-4025.

Will County Man Sentenced to Prison for Street Racing

joliet street racing attorney

A 22-year-old man was sentenced to two and a half years at the Illinois Department of Corrections for pleading guilty to aggravated street racing. The incident resulted in the death of a 49-year-old man and the injury of his 15-year-old daughter.

The Case

The incident took place in December of 2015 when the man, who was then 20 years old, was racing a 16-year-old boy who collided with the victim and his daughter. According to court transcripts from the proceeding, speeds in the race reached between 110 mph and 120 mph through the residential neighborhood where the crash occurred. The man was originally charged with nine counts of reckless homicide and two counts of aggravated street racing, but instead entered a plea bargain and pleaded guilty to a felony charge of aggravated street racing, which is a Class 4 felony.

Street Racing Laws in Illinois

According to Illinois law, street racing is defined as:

• Two or more vehicles accelerating in an attempt to outdistance each other;

• One or more vehicles preventing a vehicle from passing;

• One or more vehicles attempting to outgain or outdistance another vehicle; and

• The use of one or more vehicles to test the physical endurance of drivers.

Street racing charges can range anywhere from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class 4 felony, depending on the severity of the crime. A street racing conviction that is classified as a Class A misdemeanor and is the first conviction of the type will mean the perpetrator is subject to a minimum fine of $250 and a driver’s license revocation. A second conviction will be classified as a Class 4 felony, subject to a minimum fine of $500 and license revocation.

Aggravated street racing is committed when the person commits an act of street racing that results in great bodily harm or permanent disability or disfigurement to another. In the state of Illinois, aggravated street racing is a Class 4 felony. If the judge decides jail time is appropriate, the sentence will be a minimum of one year and a maximum of 12 years in prison. Aggravated street racing also results in a license revocation for the driver.

Contact a Will County Traffic Violations Defense Attorney

Though street racing is illegal and can greatly endanger the safety of others, all laws are up to the interpretation of a judge. With car accidents, especially those that happen at night, it can be difficult to place blame, which is why you need the help of a skilled Joliet criminal defense lawyer. The Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba can help you protect your freedom and determine the best options that will minimize the consequences to your driver’s license. To schedule a consultation, call our office at 815-740-4025.


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