SUPREME COURT OF ILLINOIS
541 N.E.2d 677, 129 Ill. 2d 80, 133 Ill. Dec. 466 1989.IL.925
Appeal from the Appellate Court for the First District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, the Hon. Thomas P. Durkin, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE CALVO delivered the opinion of the court.
DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE CALVO
Defendant, Frederick Taylor, was convicted of robbery and theft in violation of sections 18-1(a) and 16-1(a)(1) of the Illinois Criminal Code of 1961 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 38, pars. 18-1(a), 16-1(a)(1)). A sentence of 30 months' probation, with six months' incarceration as a condition thereof, and a fine of $270 was imposed on the robbery conviction. No sentence was entered on the theft conviction. The appellate court, with one Justice Dissenting, reversed the robbery conviction, affirmed the theft conviction, and remanded the cause for sentencing on the theft conviction. (173 Ill. App. 3d 686.) We allowed the State's petition for leave to appeal. (107 Ill. 2d R. 315.) We reverse.
On the evening of September 30, 1984, the victim, Ruby Shoulders, was placing a call at a pole-mounted outdoor telephone. Shoulders was wearing a medallion with five diamonds attached to a 20-inch gold rope chain. Shoulders watched as defendant walked toward her from across the street. Defendant came close to her, reached toward her, and snatched the necklace off her neck. Shoulders testified that defendant stared at her for about 10 seconds, took six to seven steps back, then turned and walked slowly away. When defendant reached the middle of the street, he turned around and stared at Shoulders again. Defendant then ran down an alley. Shoulders testified she was scared when defendant took her necklace, and even more scared by the way in which defendant stared at her afterwards.
We are asked to determine whether the degree of force necessary to sustain a robbery conviction is present on the facts of this case. The State argues the facts prove robbery; defendant argues the facts prove theft. The appellate court majority concluded defendant's act did not constitute force within the meaning of the robbery statute. The appellate court then found the absence of any struggle or verbal threats by defendant during the events leading up to or at the time of the taking to be the decisive factor in reaching its Conclusion that defendant was guilty of theft and not robbery. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 38, par. 18-1(a).) The Dissent reached the opposite Conclusion: "the trier of fact was entitled to find that the necklace was attached to the victim's person such that it created physical resistance" when removed by defendant. (173 Ill. App. 3d 686, 693 (McNamara, J., Dissenting).) As such, the Dissent found sufficient "force" to bring defendant's actions within the meaning of the robbery statute.
"§ 18-1. Robbery. (a) A person commits robbery when he takes property from the person or presence of another by the use of force or by threatening the imminent use of force." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 38, par. 18-1(a).)
"§ 16 -- 1. Theft. A person commits theft when he knowingly:
(a) Obtains or exerts unauthorized control over property of the owner . . .." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 38, par. 16-1.)
Theft of property from the person is a Class 3 felony. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 38, par. 16-1(e)(3).
It has long been emphasized that the gist of robbery is force. (Burke v. People (1893), 148 Ill. 70.) The difference between theft from the person and robbery lies in the force or intimidation used by the perpetrator to accomplish his goal of taking property from a person. People v. Ryan (1909), 239 Ill. 410; People v. Campbell (1908), 234 Ill. 391; Hall v. People (1898), 171 Ill. 540.
Robbery is theft from the person or presence of another accompanied by the use of force, or by threatening the imminent use of force. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 38, par. 18-1.) If the imminent use of force is threatened, then the actual use of force is not required in order for there to be a robbery. Where the imminent use of force is not threatened, however, then the taking of property from the person or presence of another ...