Prior to March 20, 2014, the eavesdropping statute in Illinois did not allow anyone to record your conversations without your consent. This meant your spouse or ex-partner could not surreptitiously record your conversations or altercations without your knowledge and consent. Only if someone left recordings on an answering machine would those messages be admissible in an order of protection or dissolution proceedings. Criminal sanctions could be imposed for recordings without consent which served as a deterrent from making any clandestine recordings.

In the Illinois Supreme Court’s decision People v. Clark, 2014 IL 115776, the high court struck down portions of the eavesdropping statute as “overbroad” and in violation of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. The State of Illinois argued the purpose of the law is to assure Illinois citizens that their conversations would not be recorded by another person without their consent. The high court found that the state’s blanket ban on audio recordings was so broad it criminalized a great deal of innocent conduct, beyond the state’s purpose and its legitimate scope.

This means consent is no longer required by all parties for recording conversations or electronic communications. As a practical matter recorded conversations between spouses are now fair game. Great caution should be used when engaging in an argument and heated words are exchanged. A better course of action would be to walk away or terminate the conversation.