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People v. Smit

February 09, 2000

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
V.
BRIAN SMIT, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Wolfson

APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF COOK COUNTY. HONORABLE THOMAS CONDON, JUDGE PRESIDING.

Why would anyone aim a laser light at another person? More importantly, what does someone reasonably believe when a laser light is pointed into his home and onto his body?

In this case, the State charged the defendant with assault. The trial judge dismissed the charge. We reverse and remand.

FACTS

On February 5, 1999, the prosecution filed an information charging Brian Smit (Smit) with assault. The prosecution alleged Smit "KNOWINGLY POINTED A LAZER [sic] LIGHT INTO THE HOUSE, AND ONTO THE PERSON OF ANTHONY N[.] REGNIER, THEREBY PLACING ANTHONY N[.] REGNIER IN REASONABLE APPREHENSION OF RECEIVING A BATTERY."

On April 20, 1999, Smit filed a motion to dismiss his assault charge because "*** such conduct does not amount to an Assault." Smit contended, "As a matter of law, pointing a lazer [sic] light onto a person does not place an objectively resonable [sic] person in reasonable apprehension of receiving a battery." (Emphasis in original.)

On April 26, 1999, the trial court dismissed Smit's assault charge.

The court said:

"One of the elements of assault and battery, you have to have present ability. Isn't that fair to say?

***

So that a light will never have the ability to cause a battery. That would be like a legless man trying to kick you in the head. Isn't it? At least that is the way I feel. So, while the conduct is offensive, I don't think it is criminal. And your Motion to Dismiss is granted."

The prosecution now appeals.

DECISION

The Illinois Code of Criminal Procedure provides a criminal charge must allege the offense committed by "[s]etting forth the nature and elements of the offense charged ***." 725 ILCS 5/111-3(a)(3) (West 1998); see People v. Alvarado, 301 Ill. App. 3d 1017, 1023, 704 N.E.2d 937 (1998). "*** [T]he relevant inquiry is not whether the alleged offense could be described with greater certainty, but whether there is sufficient particularity to enable the accused to prepare a proper defense." People v. Meyers, 158 Ill. 2d 46, 54, 630 N.E.2d 811 (1994). The trial court determines the sufficiency of a charging instrument as a matter of law, and our review of ...


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