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People v. White

MARCH 1, 1971.




APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Macon County; the Hon. RODNEY A. SCOTT, Judge, presiding.



A jury found defendant guilty of forgery. Sentence imposed was a minimum of 4 years and a maximum of 14 years. Defendant appeals.

Upon appeal it is urged that the indictment was not sufficient to charge the offense; that denial of a motion for a directed verdict at the close of the State's evidence was plain error requiring reversal; that the trial court considered improper matter in imposing sentence and that the sentence is excessive for the forgery of a six ($6.00) dollar check.

The indictment is said to be void in that it failed to identify the person to whom the instrument was delivered. The information alleges that upon a specified date, "at Star Service Station", with a stated address, the defendant, "* * * with intent to defraud, knowingly delivered a document apparently capable of defrauding another in such manner that it purported to have been made by James E. Douglas, when in fact it had not, such check being in words and figures as follows: * * *.", with the instrument thereafter set out in haec verba.

The evidence is that the check was delivered to one Jones, an employee of the Service Station. An allegation identifying the latter was not essential to the preparation of a defense for no real issue raised at the trial denied the execution and delivery of the check. It is urged that there might be subsequent and further prosecutions for the same conduct of defendant at the instance of Jones, "the actual victim" who had to make the check good, at the instance of Douglas, whose name was signed as maker, or of another Freddie White, whose name appeared on the back of the check.

• 1 This argument is not persuasive in view of the provisions of the present Criminal Code, Ill. Rev. Stat. 1967, ch. 38, par. 3-3(b), which provides that if several offenses arising from the same conduct are known to the prosecuting officers at the time of commencing the prosecution and are within the jurisdiction of a single court, such several offenses must be prosecuted in a single prosecution unless the court, in the interests of justice, orders separate trials. Here, the several potential prosecutions argued are apparent from the instrument set out in the information.

• 2 Again, the defense of prior conviction or acquittal of the offense here charged may be raised from the record in bar of a subsequent prosecution. As stated in The People v. Brady, 272 Ill. 401, at 409, 112 N.E. 126, the court said:

"It is further contended the nature and cause of the accusation are not sufficiently stated in the indictment so as to enable the defendants to plead the judgment in bar of a subsequent prosecution for the same offense. Under the present practice, whether the indictment is for the same offense as that charged in a former indictment under which there has been a final judgment is not determined by an inspection and comparison of the indictments, under a plea setting up the former judgment in bar. The defense of former acquittal or conviction may be made under the plea of not guilty, and on the trial the party accused and the particular offense may be shown by parol testimony."

In The People v. Hawkinson, 324 Ill. 285, 155 N.E. 318, the court held that the record is competent evidence in showing a former conviction as a plea in bar. See also People v. Petropoulos, 59 Ill. App.2d 298, 208 N.E.2d 323; People v. King, 50 Ill. App.2d 421, 200 N.E.2d 411. Defendant argues that The People v. Crouch, 29 Ill.2d 485, 194 N.E.2d 248, supports this contention. There, the court held that it was sufficient to allege a general intent to defraud in charging forgery. In speaking of the bar by further prosecution the court noted that the person to whom the instrument was delivered was named in the indictment. The language of the opinion does not suggest that the naming of the person to whom delivery was made is a required alternative to alleging an intent to defraud a specific person. It is noted that no statutory language found in ch. 38, par. 17-3 defining forgery, or in ch. 38, par. 111-3 stating the requirements for charging an offense, (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1967, ch. 38, pars. 17-3 and 111-3) requires the naming of a person to whom an instrument is delivered with intent to defraud.

Defendant's motion for directed verdict at the close of the State's evidence was filed but not argued. It is now urged that the denial of the motion was plain error because the trial court was aware that, in an answer to defendant's motion, the State's Attorney had given notice of an oral confession and that one of the witnesses to such oral confession was a parole agent. Such oral confession was not introduced into evidence.

• 3 It is contended that at the time the motion for directed verdict was made, there was not sufficient evidence to establish the elements of forgery, but that the knowledge of "* * * these matters may well have improperly influenced the trial court on a motion for a directed verdict". This argument is without merit. The opening statement made in behalf of the defendant concedes that defendant made and delivered the check, but that it was not intended to defraud. Thus the issue now argued did not exist at the trial. Nothing in the record supports the argued conclusion that the oral confession was non-existent, or that the State's Attorney's notice of such oral confession was improperly filed.

It is finally contended that the sentence is excessive and that the trial court considered improper matter in fixing sentence. In colloquy at the time of sentence, the trial court picked up the statement of the State's Attorney to the effect that the jury had rejected defendant's testimony of the occurrence and, in effect, found him guilty of perjury. The court properly noted the contents of the record that defendant had been sentenced to a term of 2 to 5 years for another forgery; that he had served 2 1/2 years before being paroled and was still on parole at the time of this offense. The record also shows defendant's consecutive sentence for theft. The court said:

"It would be unreasonable in any way to impose the same penalty as on the prior disposition because the matter is more aggravated by repetition. The matter is more aggravated ...

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