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People v. Crawford

OPINION FILED JUNE 11, 1986.

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

v.

JOSEPH CRAWFORD, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. John A. McElligott, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE MCNAMARA DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Defendant, Joseph Crawford, was charged with unlawful use of a firearm by a felon. Defendant previously had been convicted of voluntary manslaughter. After a trial without a jury, the trial court found defendant guilty of the offense charged and sentenced him to a term of three years. On appeal defendant contends that the statute in question is void because it is an arbitrary exercise of the State's police power, that he was denied equal protection and due process of law, and that the statute violates the doctrine of separation of powers.

Because of the nature of the arguments on appeal, only a few facts are necessary. On August 10, 1984, at 12:15 a.m., two Chicago police officers arrested defendant for possession of a loaded .38-caliber, snub-nosed revolver in his waistband. Defendant was standing outside of an apartment building in which he resided. The arrest occurred as the result of a complaint by an unidentified individual who stopped the officers. At trial, the State offered into evidence a certified copy of defendant's 1975 conviction for voluntary manslaughter.

• 1 Defendant first contends that the unlawful use of weapons by felons statute (Ill. Rev. Stat., 1984 Supp., ch. 38, par. 24-1.1), violates due process and is therefore unconstitutional because it is an unreasonable and arbitrary exercise of the State's police power. Defendant maintains that the statutory exclusion of all convicted felons from possession of weapons or firearms is overly broad and that it proscribes the possession of weapons without requiring a culpable mental state.

The statute provides as follows:

"Sec. 24-1.1 Unlawful Use of Weapons by Felons.

(a) It is unlawful for a person to knowingly possess on or about his person or on his land or in his own abode or fixed place of business any weapon prohibited under Section 24-1 of this Act or any firearm or firearm ammunition if the person has been convicted of a felony under the laws of this State or any other jurisdiction. This Section shall not apply if the person has been granted relief by the Director of the Department of Law Enforcement pursuant to Section 10 of `An Act relating to the acquisition, possession, and transfer of firearms and firearm ammunition, to provide a penalty for the violation thereof and to make an appropriation in connection therewith', approved August 3, 1967, as amended.

(b) Violation of this Section shall be a Class 3 felony." (Ill. Rev. Stat., 1984 Supp., ch. 38, par. 24-1.1.)

Section 24-1, unlawful use of weapons, prohibits the possession of certain weapons and includes the following provision:

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

(2) Carries or possesses with intent to use the same unlawfully against another, a dagger, dirk, billy, dangerous knife, razor, stiletto, broken bottle or other piece of glass, stun gun or taser or any other dangerous or deadly weapon or instrument of like character; * * *."

(Ill. Rev. Stat., 1984 Supp., ch. 38, par. 24-1(a)(2).)

A convicted felon may be granted relief from the prohibition against possession of a firearm if it is determined that:

"(1) the applicant has not been convicted of a forcible felony under the laws of this State ...


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