Appeal from the Appellate Court for the Third District; heard
in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Rock Island
County, the Hon. Conway L. Spanton, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE SIMON DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
The issue here is the sufficiency of an information charging the defendant, William Hockaday, with the offense of forgery by delivery (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 38, par. 17-3(a)(2)). The challenged portion of the information reads:
"BILLY BOB HOCKADAY * * * committed the offense of FORGERY, in that the said defendant, with the intent to defraud, knowingly delivered to Debbie Saylor a document apparently capable of defrauding another, in that it purported to have been made by another, Robert Owens and Tom Hanson, a copy of the document is attached and made a part hereof by reference thereto, said document being a check numbered 1633 of Energy Specialty Products, Inc., a corporation licensed to do business in the State of Illinois, drawn on the River Forest State Bank and Trust Company of River Forest, Illinois, dated March 12, 1980, payable to Stephanie A. Morrow in the amount of Four Hundred Seventy-five and no/100 Dollars ($475.00) and signed as maker Robert Owens and Tom Hanson, knowing the document to have been thus made, in violation of Section 17-3a2 of Chapter 38, Illinois Revised Statutes." (Emphasis added.)
The defendant attacked the sufficiency of the information by several motions to dismiss or quash the information, all of which were denied. After a jury trial in Rock Island County, the defendant was found guilty of forgery by delivery and sentenced to two years' imprisonment. On appeal, the appellate court reversed, concluding that the information did not sufficiently describe the elements of the forgery-by-delivery offense. 100 Ill. App.3d 762.
Section 111-3(a)(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 provides that a charging instrument must set forth "the nature and elements of the offense charged." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 38, par. 111-3(a)(3).) When, as here, the defendant properly raises the issue of the sufficiency of the information in the trial court, the information must be scrutinized to determine whether it conforms to this statutory requirement. (See People v. Lutz (1978), 73 Ill.2d 204.) If the information fails to properly set forth the elements of the offense charged, the trial court must grant the defendant's motion to dismiss or motion in arrest of judgment. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 38, pars. 114-1(a)(8), 116-2(b)(1).
The appellate court in this case properly identified the five elements of the forgery-by-delivery offense as follows:
"(1) a document apparently capable of defrauding another; (2) a making or altering of such document by one person in such manner that it purports to have been made by another; (3) knowledge by defendant that it has been thus made; (4) knowing delivery of the document; and (5) intent to defraud." (100 Ill. App.3d 762, 765.)
It then held that the information was insufficient because it did not adequately set out elements (2) and (3).
The appellate court based this conclusion on its interpretation of the language in the information. The relevant language states that the "defendant * * * delivered * * * a document apparently capable of defrauding another, in that it purported to have been made by another * * * knowing the document to have been thus made * * *." The appellate court interpreted the word "purported" to indicate that the check appeared to be made by another without charging that the check was falsely so made. Thus, the court concluded that the information failed both to describe the check as a forgery and to allege that the defendant knew of the check's forged character. 100 Ill. App.3d 762, 766.
We do not interpret the charging language as the appellate court did. "This court has consistently held that an indictment which charges an offense in the language of the statute is sufficient if the words of the statute particularize the offense so that an accused is apprised, with reasonable certainty, of the precise offense." (People v. Banks (1979), 75 Ill.2d 383, 392, citing People v. Dickerson (1975), 61 Ill.2d 580, 582; People v. Mills (1968), 40 Ill.2d 4, 11.) In this case the information closely follows the language of the statute that defines the offense of forgery by delivery.
Section 17-3(a) of the Criminal Code of 1961 provides:
"A person commits forgery when, with intent to defraud, he knowingly:
(1) Makes or alters any document apparently capable of defrauding another in such manner that it purports to have been made by another * * *; or
(2) Issues or delivers such document knowing it to have been thus made or altered * * *." Ill. Rev. Stat. ...