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People v. Sanders

June 18, 1998

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, APPELLANT, V. ROBERT SANDERS, APPELLEE.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice McMORROW

Agenda 16

September 1997.

The State charged defendant Robert Sanders by information with violation of section 2(c) of the Illinois Hunter Interference Prohibition Act (720 ILCS 125/2(c) (West 1996)). Pursuant to defendant's motion to dismiss, the circuit court of Lake County entered an order on February 20, 1997, dismissing the criminal charge against defendant. The court found section 2(c) impermissibly vague and overbroad, in violation of the United States Constitution. U.S. Const., amends. I, V. Because the statute was declared unconstitutional, the State's appeal from that ruling lies directly to this court. 134 Ill. 2d R. 603. We affirm.

BACKGROUND

Section 2 of the Illinois Hunter Interference Prohibition Act (Act) states:

"Any person who performs any of the following shall be guilty of a Class B misdemeanor:

(a) Interferes with the lawful taking of a wild animal by another with intent to prevent the taking.

(b) Disturbs or engages in an activity that will tend to disturb wild animals, with intent to prevent their lawful taking.

(c) [D]isturbs another person who is engaged in the lawful taking of a wild animal or who is engaged in the process of taking, with intent to dissuade or otherwise prevent the taking.

(d) [E]nters or remains upon public lands, or upon private lands without permission of the owner or his agent or a lessee, with intent to violate this Section." 720 ILCS 125/2 (West 1996).

The Act defines "wild animal" as "any wild creature the taking of which is authorized by the fish and game laws of the State." 720 ILCS 125/1(a) (West 1996). Under the Act, "taking" means "the capture or killing of a wild animal and includes travel, camping, and other acts preparatory to taking which occur on lands or waters upon which the affected person has the right or privilege to take such wild animal." 720 ILCS 125/1(b) (West 1996). No other terms are defined by the Act.

The State filed an information on November 19, 1996, charging defendant, Robert Sanders, with the offense of "Interference with lawful taking of wild animal." 720 ILCS 125/2 (West 1996). The State alleged that on February 16, 1996, defendant "disturbed Elizabeth B. Surge" with the intent to dissuade her, by yelling at her and taking her photograph as she attempted to shoot a deer.

In documents filed with the circuit court, defendant initially contended that the confrontation with Surge occurred "on a public street in a residential neighborhood relating to the capture of deer." The State's response to defendant's motion to dismiss stated that defendant approached Surge at a "deer relocation sight [sic] in Highland Park." On appeal, defendant apparently agrees with the State's characterization of the incident, since the defendant's appellee's brief concedes that "[d]efendant took a picture of, and spoke to a person working at a deer relocation center."

Defendant moved to dismiss the information. Defendant claimed that subsection (c) of section 2 is overbroad in violation of the first amendment to the United States Constitution and unconstitutionally vague in violation of the "Due Process Clause."

On February 20, 1997, the circuit court of Lake County entered a written finding granting defendant's motion to dismiss. The court ruled that prosecution of subsection (c) of section 2 "require[s] allegations and proof of three elements:

1. disturbing another person ***;

2. the other person must be actively engaged or in the process of taking a wild animal; and

3. an intent to dissuade or otherwise prevent the taking."

The circuit court examined other Illinois statutes, such as those proscribing disorderly conduct (720 ILCS 5/26-1 (West 1996)), mob action (720 ILCS 5/25-1 (West 1996)), intimidation (720 ILCS 5/12-6 (West 1996)), and telephone harassment (720 ILCS 135/1-1 (West 1996)), "from the p[er]spective of similar language, constitutional challenges, and rulings based on those challenges." Lastly, the court found persuasive case law cited by defendant, as it pertained to "vagueness, overbrea[d]th, free speech and due process."

Based on the foregoing analysis, the circuit court dismissed the information, and ruled that section 2 of the Act "is vague, overbroad, and violative of due process with respect to the protection of freedom of speech," "to the extent that the term [`]dissuades['] is used."

Pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 603, the State appealed the February 20, 1997, order to this ...


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