Arrest and Bail in Chicago

Arrest and Bail in Chicago/ Eavesdropping

 Planning a trip to Chicago for NATO Summit protests?  Arrested at a protest in Chicago?  Unlike California and some other states, Illinois does not use bail bondsmen.  If you are arrested (not on a warrant) on a misdemeanor or petty ordinance violation while in Chicago, you will be required to pay a bail bond of 10% of the total bail, but a minimum of $120 or $150 must be paid.   This is paid directly to the desk sergeant at the police station where you are being held.  This bail bond amount will usually be $120 or $150 in cash or cashier’s check.  If you cannot pay the bail, the watch commander at the station may authorize that you be released on an “I Bond,” or Individual Bond, which means you are being released on your own recognizance.  If you are arrested on a felony, you will be brought before a judge who will set the bail amount.  You will then have to pay 10% of that amount.  If you show up court, and after your case is all over, you may apply to have your bail, minus some fees, refunded to you.

Municipal, State, and Federal Offenses:
If you are arrested at a protest in Chicago, you will probably be charged with either a violation of the Chicago Municipal Code or of the Illinois Criminal Code.  Call me cynical, but I think the City will most likely be trying to charge protesters with Municipal Code violations, so the City can make the money in fines.   Some of the Chicago laws pertaining to protests can be read at:

The  NATO summits are being run by the U.S. Secret Service and FBI.  You might be charged with a federal offense if you are accused of doing anything that affects them, their vehicles, their equipment, or the territory they stake out as a safety perimeter around the event locations.  Please don’t do any of this.

Arrests at Chicago Protests:  It is usually pretty darn easy to avoid getting arrested at a protest in Chicago.  Things that are almost sure to get you arrested at a protest in Chicago are the same things that would get you arrested in public in Chicago, even if it were not a protest, such as: 
  • Being in a park after closing 
  • Interfering with traffic 
  • Use a sound system or megaphone without a permit
  • Graffiti – marking with chalk, marker, paint, etc., on anything that is not your own piece of paper
  • Possession of markers or paints likely to be used for graffiti
  • Any form of property damage or misuse 
  • Doing anything as a group that startles or frightens others
  • Possessing open alcohol or being intoxicated in public
  • Marijuana possession or use (Illinois does not have medical marijuana)
  • Carrying a weapon
  •  Disobeying simple instructions from a police officer
  • Climbing a fence or barrier meant to keep people out 
  • Starting any fire
  • Pointing a laser pointer at a plane, vehicle, or person  

UPDATE: APRIL 28, 2012 
According to news reports, Chicago police will not enforce the Illinois Eavesdropping Law during the NATO Summit in Chicago.  This means live streamers are free to record audio with their video without fear of prosecution under the eavesdropping law.  Please see this news article at the NorthWest Times.

older post:
If you plan to bring an audio or video recorder, including a phone with a built-in camera, and if you are not a broadcast journalist, please be aware that it is a crime in Illinois to record any conversation between two or more people without stated specific permission beforehand from each of them.  If you record a police officer in conversation with someone while in the course of official duties, it is a serious felony.  If you wish to videotape an arrest and you are not an actual broadcast journalist, be absolutely sure you are not recording audio.  You may still be arrested, but if you have not recorded audio, you will most likely have a defense.  Please read the full article linked at: Illinois Eavesdropping Law and Video at Protests. 

If you are actually Broadcasting or recording for later Broadcast, the law is slightly different, please read the full linked article and consult with a lawyer.  Illinois Eavesdropping Law and Video at Protests.

If you are an actual broadcast journalist, as some of the live streamers are,  try to get Chicago News Media Credentials and/or the special NATO Press Credentials.