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People v. Grant





Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Lawrence I. Genesen, Judge, presiding.


Following a bench trial in the circuit court of Cook County, defendant, Willie E. Grant, was found guilty of the offense of unlawful use of weapons (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1971, ch. 38, par. 24-1(a)(4)) and sentenced to 2 years probation, the first 60 days to be served in jail. He appealed directly to this court.

Defendant contends that the complaint charging the offense was fatally defective in that it failed to state that, at the time of the offense, defendant was not "on his own land or in his own abode." The statute in pertinent part provided:

"(a) A person commits the offense of unlawful use of weapons when he knowingly:

(4) Carries concealed * * * on or about his person except when on his land or in his own abode or fixed place of business any pistol, revolver or other firearm; * * *." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1971, ch. 38, par. 24-1(a)(4).

The complaint charges only that the defendant "knowingly carried concealed on his person, a Colt Model 1911 Army .45 Cal. 8 shot automatic pistol, serial No. 413367."

Section 111-5 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1971, ch. 38, par. 111-5) provides:

"An indictment, information or complaint which charges the commission of an offense in accordance with Section 111-3 of this Code [which states the formal requirements for charging a defendant with a criminal violation] shall not be dismissed and may be amended on motion by the State's Attorney or defendant at any time because of formal defects, including:

* * *

(e) The failure to negative any exception, any excuse or proviso contained in the statute defining the offense; * * *."

An information "which charges an offense in the language of the statute is deemed sufficient when the words of the statute so far particularize the offense that by their use alone an accused is apprised with reasonable certainty of the precise offense with which he or she is charged." (People v. Patrick, 38 Ill.2d 255, at 258.) What is required is notice sufficient to prepare an adequate defense and clarity sufficient to allow pleading a resulting conviction as a bar to future prosecution arising out of the same conduct. (People v. Harvey, 53 Ill.2d 585, 588.) The information meets these requirements and the failure to include therein the exception provided in the statute does not render it fatally defective.

Defendant contends that the evidence failed to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. He argues that the People were required to prove that he carried a pistol, that he carried it knowingly, that he carried it concealed, and that at the time he was not in his own abode. Officer Frank Lameka testified that on the evening of the occurrence he was on duty in an unmarked automobile when, on several occasions, the police radio reported shooting on Sedgwick Street. Shortly thereafter, "a citizen," not otherwise identified, stopped him, pointed out an automobile traveling north on Sedgwick Street and said that its occupants were "the guys shooting all night" and that they had shot at him. The officer asked the "citizen" to join him but was refused, and he then followed the automobile to 1473 North Larrabee Street where he observed five or six men get out of the automobile and enter through the door which led to the second-floor apartment at that address. After radioing for and obtaining assistance, he knocked at the door. Willie Flake, whom the officer knew, having arrested him previously, answered the door and, when asked if he had any guns, stated "We don't have anything here." There were five men and two women in the apartment. Officer Lameka asked permission to conduct a search, and Flake, stating "that he was the one staying in the apartment," consented. Nothing was found and no arrests were made at that time. Lameka asked Flake what was above the apartment and was told "nothing — a vacant attic." Accompanied by another officer, and possibly Flake, he went into the attic where defendant was found in a shed. A .38-caliber revolver was lying on the floor nearby. Officer Lameka searched the defendant and discovered a .45-caliber Colt automatic tucked under his belt. Defendant was arrested and charged with unlawful use of weapons, and the occupants of the apartment were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. The disorderly-conduct charges were later dismissed.

Defendant testified that on the date of the arrest he lived at 1473 Larrabee, with his brother, Ray Jackson, and his sister-in-law, the lessees of the apartment, and that he had lived there for about five or six months. When arrested, he explained, he gave his address as 730 West Weed Street because that was his mother's residence and his mailing address. Defendant also gave several other addresses for himself. He explained that he had gone into the attic for the purpose of changing a blown fuse. The trial court found that at the time of the occurrence defendant's address was 730 West Weed Street, concluded that he was in the attic not for the purpose of changing a fuse but to hide from the police, and found him guilty of unlawful use of weapons.

On this record, a finding of guilt or innocence depended upon the credibility attributed by the trial court to the testimony of the police officer and the defendant. Since we are unable to say that the trial court's finding is not supported by the evidence or that the proof is so unsatisfactory as to create a reasonable doubt of defendant's guilt ...

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