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People v. Francis

OPINION FILED OCTOBER 6, 1978.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, APPELLANT,

v.

CHARLIE FRANCIS, APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Appellate Court for the First District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, the Hon. David J. Shields, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE GOLDENHERSH DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

In a bench trial in the circuit court of Cook County defendant, Charlie Francis, was found guilty of unlawful use of weapons (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 38, par. 24-1(a)(10)). He was sentenced to a one-year conditional discharge (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 38, par. 1005-6-1 et seq.) with two days in custody and fined an amount equal to his bail bond deposit. The appellate court reversed (52 Ill. App.3d 978), and we allowed the People's petition for leave to appeal.

The Criminal Code of 1961 in pertinent part provided:

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

(10) Carries or possesses in a vehicle or on or about his person within the corporate limits of a city, village or incorporated town, except when on his land or in his own abode or fixed place of business, any loaded pistol, revolver or other firearm." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 38, par. 24-1(a)(10).

"(a) Subsections 24-1(a)(3), 24-1(a)(4) and 24-1(a)(10) do not apply to or affect any of the following:

(4) * * * security guards while actually engaged in the performance of the duties of their employment or commuting between their homes and places of employment, provided that such commuting is accomplished within one hour from departure from home or place of employment * * *." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 38, par. 24-2(a)(4).

"(g) An information or indictment based upon a violation of any Subsection of this Article need not negative any exemptions contained in this Article. The defendant shall have the burden of proving such an exemption." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 38, par. 24-2(g).

The parties stipulated that on February 19, 1976, defendant was arrested by officers of the Chicago Police Department in the city of Chicago at a place other than his home, and that he was then in possession of a fully loaded .38-caliber revolver.

Defendant testified that he was employed as a security agent by the W.L. Lillard Bureau of Investigation. On the day of his arrest he was assigned to service commencing at 9 a.m. at an A & P store on Drexel Avenue as a replacement for a newly hired agent who had not shown for work. Defendant testified that although the new agent arrived at 10:30 a.m., in keeping with normal agency procedure, he remained on duty to supervise the new employee's work.

Defendant stated that he was first approached by the arresting officers during his lunch break at about 12:30 p.m. while sitting in his car, which was parked in a no-parking zone. Since he did not have his driver's license with him he showed the officers identification in the form of a State firearms card, an Illinois State registration and identification card, and a W.L. Lillard Bureau of Investigation card. These cards were admitted into evidence. Defendant was issued a traffic citation for failing to have a driver's license in his possession and sent on his way.

Defendant testified further that he returned to the A & P store for about 10 minutes and then "went off duty"; and that about 5 minutes later as he was driving to a nearby store to purchase some cigarettes, he was again detained by the same officers that had issued him the citation earlier in the day. At this time he was arrested on the unlawful use of weapons charge.

Both of the arresting officers testified. Officer O'Connor's testimony, for the most part, corroborated defendant's version of the arrest, but he stated that defendant had not told the officers that he had just gone off duty, and that defendant had said that he had gone off duty at 10:30. This latter statement, allegedly made by defendant, is not reflected in the arrest report submitted by the officers.

In reversing, the appellate court held "that defendant in the instant case presented a quantum of evidence sufficient to bring himself within the security guard exemption" (52 Ill. App.3d 978, 982) and that the People "must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant was not covered by the exemption. (People v. Williams (1975), 28 Ill. App.3d 67, 71, 32 ...


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