After the former law was struck down as unconstitutionally broad, Illinois has enacted a new eavesdropping statute.

Under the new law, it is illegal to use an eavesdropping device to record private conversations unless all parties consent. (See Illinois Eavesdropping Statute.) A private conversation is defined as oral communication between two or more parties, whether in person or through wire or other means, and where one or more of the parties intended the communication to be private under circumstances reasonably justifying that expectation.

A person commits the crime of eavesdropping when he or she knowingly or intentionally uses an eavesdropping device to surreptitiously overhear, transmit or record a conversation to which he or she is not a party unless all parties to the private communication consent. It is also illegal to disclose any information obtained through that eavesdropping.

Police are not permitted to eavesdrop without a court order unless they were unaware that the communication was privileged.

Eavesdropping as a first offense is a Class 4 felony, punishable by 1 to 3 years in prison. A second offense is a Class 3 felony, punishable by 2 to 5 years. Eavesdropping on law enforcement or the state’s attorney while in the performance of their duties is a Class 3 felony for a first offense, and a Class 2 for subsequent offenses.

If you are charged under the new law or for another criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case to determine your best possible options. As with most crimes, the state must prove all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Did you intentionally eavesdrop? Did the complaining witness really have a justified expectation of privacy?

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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