Illinois Teen Charged With Felony for Eavesdropping
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.
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.
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.