The governor of Illinois has signed legislation that reclassifies the existing law against false 911 calls, making it a felony instead of a misdemeanor, which substantially increases the possible penalty. Gov. Pat Quinn said in a press release, “By making the penalty harsher, this new law will help deter people from placing false 911 calls.” The bill becomes effective on January 1, 2011 and makes false 911 calls a Class 4 felony, the lowest ranking among felonies. If convicted, a defendant could serve from one to three years in state prison, and be fined up to $25,000. According to the existing law, it’s illegal to dial 911, “for the purpose of making or transmitting a false alarm or complaint and reporting information when, at the time the call or transmission is made, the person knows there is no reasonable ground for making the call or transmission and further knows that the call or transmission could result in the emergency response of any public safety agency.” A companion section prohibiting false reports of emergencies not made via 911 is still a Class A misdemeanor, the highest-ranked misdemeanor. The offense carries a penalty of up to one year in jail and/or up to $2,500 in fines. Download (pdf) a copy of the amended law here, and read some police chief reaction here.