People are confused about the eavesdropping laws. The eavesdropping laws vary from state to state. This article only addresses the law in Illinois. There are exceptions to the law for police and law enforcement. I represent individuals and small business owners.
For the average person, the law is very clear. Do not record conversations with other people without their consent. That means every party that is part of the conversation must consent to the recording. If there are four people having a conversation all four must consent to it being recorded. Two people out of the four parties to a conversation can not consent to the conversation being recorded.
There are two very important reasons for either gaining everyone’s consent or not recording the conversation at all. First, the unconsented recording of a conversation will never be admissible in any civil or criminal procedure. Second, that unconsented recording is a Class 4 felony (1-3 years jail time) for the first offense, a Class 3 felony (3-7 years jail time) for subsequent offenses, and a Class 1 felony (4-15 years jail time) if recording a police officer, state’s attorney, assistant state’s attorney, attorney general, assistant attorney general or judge.
The term conversation under the eavesdropping statute means any oral communication between two or more persons regardless of whether one or more of the parties intended their communication to be of a private nature under circumstances justifying that expectation. Thus, people do not even need the expectation of privacy. If you want to record the conversation, you have to ask everyone to agree to the recording.
A basic way a person commits eavesdropping is when he intentionally uses a eavesdropping device for the purpose of hearing or recording all or any part of any conversation or intercepts, retains, or transcribes electronic communication unless he does so with the consent of all of the parties to such conversation or electronic communication.
Remember, you are not helping yourself or your situation to record a conversation without everyone’s consent.