Rep. Breen Files Bill to Strengthen State Stalking Law and Protect Victims

Capitol_Buidling_.JPGRep. Peter Breen received a hearing and unanimous vote in the Judiciary-Criminal Committee to advance his HB 4506, which proposes revisions to preserve Illinois’ Stalking Laws, which were struck down as unconstitutional in large part this past November.

“HB 4506 keeps laws in place that provide adequate protection against crimes, while protecting the First Amendment rights of Illinoisans. The changes that passed committee provide sound, thorough protections for victims of stalking, while shoring up constitutional weaknesses in our current law,” said Breen, a constitutional attorney who has served in the Illinois House of Representatives since 2015. “The ruling has left many victims of stalking vulnerable and without legal protections. My bill, drafted in consultation with the ACLU of Illinois, would be immediately effective, to protect victims of stalking as soon as possible.”

In November, the Illinois Supreme Court, in People v. Relerford, found portions of the stalking statute unconstitutional, as overbroad and impermissibly infringing on the right to Free Speech. HB 4506 seeks to revise the law in accord with the dictates of the United States Constitution. Breen developed his bill, with the help of expert law professors and the ACLU of Illinois, to protect victims of stalking and cyberstalking in Illinois. The bill revises several constitutionally suspect parts of state stalking law, including prohibitions on causing “emotional distress” and content-discriminatory picketing exemptions.

HB 4506 will now be considered by the entire House of Representatives. If approved by the General Assembly, the bill would take effect immediately upon its signing into law.