Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

People v. Warner

OPINION FILED JULY 17, 1981.

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

v.

LARRY ARTHUR WARNER, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Piatt County; the Hon. JOHN P. SHONKWILER, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE GREEN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

On October 22, 1980, following a jury trial in the circuit court of Piatt County, defendant, Larry A. Warner, was convicted of two counts of unlawful restraint (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 38, par. 10-3) and four counts of contributing to the neglect of a child. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 23, par. 2361.) He was sentenced to 2 years' probation for the offenses of unlawful restraint and 1 year probation for four counts of contributing to the neglect of a child. The sentences were to run concurrently.

On appeal, defendant contends that: (1) even if he were head of the household, he did not commit the offense of unlawful restraint merely by confining the children to their bedrooms; (2) even though he shared a house with the children and their mother, he did not become a "person having custody" of the children as defined in the statute (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 23, par. 2361); and (3) the convictions of contributing to the neglect of a child and the convictions of unlawful restraint arose from the same acts and are therefore merged.

At trial, the evidence was undisputed that Sonja Peyton and her four children, Jesse, Sarah, Alice and Joseph, lived with the defendant and his two children for approximately two years prior to July 1980. Peyton and defendant agreed that defendant could work and support both families, and Peyton would remain at home and take care of all six children. During the time the two families lived together, defendant did not have a steady job, collected unemployment compensation and refused to allow Peyton to work outside the home. Peyton received Illinois Public Aid and food stamps for both families.

"A person commits the offense of unlawful restraint when he knowingly without legal authority detains another." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 38, par. 10-3.

The evidence is undisputed that during the months of June and July 1980, Jesse was confined to his bedroom for approximately 30 days, and Sarah was confined to her bedroom for one week, as punishment for "stealing" food from the family kitchen. Jesse and Sonja testified that the defendant had imposed these restrictions, although the defendant denied that it was his idea.

The record further indicates that during the time Jesse was confined to his room, he was allowed to leave the room once a day to use the bathroom, food was brought to him, and he was not allowed to see or talk to anyone other than the defendant. In addition, the evidence showed that the windows and door in Jesse's room were closed, and the windows were covered with plastic until the last week of his confinement when a fan was placed in the room. Throughout the 30-day period, Jesse was permitted to leave his bedroom for one visit to defendant's mother's grave and "some" trips to the park or to shop. The actual number of such visits is in dispute. Jesse's testimony was unclear as to how many, if any, of the visits occurred during the restriction period. At one point, he testified he never went shopping during that time, and at another point, he testified he went shopping approximately ten times. On redirect examination, Jesse stated that some, but not all of the trips to the park and to shop were during the period of restriction.

Sonja Peyton testified that during the restriction period, Jesse appeared "peaked, white and almost comatose," and Sarah broke out in a heat rash.

Defendant cites Dr. Benjamin Spock, Baby and Child Care (3d ed. 1968), as authority for his first argument that he did not commit the offense of unlawful restraint by confining Jesse and Sarah to their bedrooms as a means of discipline. Dr. Spock recognized some form of confinement as an appropriate form of punishment although he neither encouraged nor condemned it.

• 1 However, the standard which governs parental discipline is one of reasonableness. In Fletcher v. People (1869), 52 Ill. 395, where the defendant was convicted of unlawful detention, the court stated that while "the law gives parents a large discretion in the exercise of authority over their children * * * this authority must be exercised within the bounds of reason and humanity. If the parent commits wanton and needless cruelty upon his child, either by imprisonment * * * or by inhuman beating, the law will punish him." Fletcher, at 397.

• 2 Based on the circumstances of the case, the trier of fact was required to determine whether the punishment was reasonable. The jury could have concluded that it was not reasonable to confine a child to an unventilated bedroom during the summer for the greater part of one month, or even for the one week that Sarah was confined.

• 3 The defendant also argues the children were not detained since they were allowed to leave their bedrooms to go shopping and to the cemetery. However, physical force is not necessary to accomplish the restraint as long as the individual's freedom of locomotion is impaired. (People v. Satterthwaite (1979), 72 Ill. App.3d 483, 391 N.E.2d 162.) Since the children were not free to leave the custody and control of the defendant and were kept in their rooms for the vast majority of the time, the jury could reasonably have concluded beyond a reasonable doubt that the children had been detained within the meaning of the statute.

Defendant was convicted of four counts of contributing to the neglect of a child: i.e., Jesse, Sarah, Alice, and Joseph. The statute defines the offense as follows:

"Any parent, legal guardian or person having the custody of a child * * * who knowingly or wilfully causes * * * such person to be or to become a dependent and neglected child as defined in [ch. 23, ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.