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People v. Tate

OPINION FILED FEBRUARY 5, 1979.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

JESSE TATE, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. ARTHUR A. SULLIVAN, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE MCGLOON DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Defendant was charged by complaint with the offense of unlawful use of weapons in that he knowingly possessed karate sticks in violation of section 24-1(a)(1) of the Criminal Code of 1961. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 38, par. 24-1(a)(1).

The testimony presented at trial indicated that at approximately 2:40 a.m. on August 11, 1977, the defendant was walking out of an alley near 76 East Madison Street in Chicago carrying karate sticks, two painted and decorated wooden sticks, each one foot in length and connected by a link chain six or seven inches long.

The defendant explained at trial that he was enrolled at the Golden Dome Karate School where he had purchased the karate sticks and that he had been to karate classes that evening until 10 p.m. The defendant further testified that he had gone to the beach after class and was on his way home from the beach when officers arrested him.

After hearing the above evidence, the trial court, sitting without a jury, ruled that the karate sticks were a bludgeon within the meaning of section 24-1(a)(1) of the Criminal Code, found the defendant guilty as charged, and sentenced him to 60 days in the House of Correction.

Defendant now appeals and contends that the legislature when it enacted section 24-1(a)(1) of the Criminal Code never intended to prohibit mere possession of equipment used in a legitimate sport.

We reverse.

Section 24-1(a)(1) of the Criminal Code states:

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

Sells, manufactures, purchases, possesses or carries any bludgeon, black-jack, slung-shot, sand-club, sand-bag, metal knuckles or any knife, commonly referred to as a switchblade knife * * *." (Emphasis added.)

In finding the defendant guilty of violating section 24-1(a)(1) of the Criminal Code, the trial court reasoned that the karate sticks were a bludgeon. We believe the trial court erred in this determination.

A Michigan case, People v. Malik (1976), 70 Mich. App. 133, 135-36, 245 N.W.2d 434, 436, provides the following compilation of definitions of bludgeon:

"`[A] short stout stick or club, with one end loaded or thicker and heavier than the other, used as a weapon.' The Oxford English Dictionary 942 (1933).

`[A] short, heavy club with one end weighted, or thicker and heavier than the other.' The Random House Dictionary of the English ...


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