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People v. Robinson

March 22, 2001

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
PHILLIP ROBINSON, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of De Kalb County. No. 99--CF--424 Honorable Douglas R. Engel, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Grometer

Not Released For Publication

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
PHILLIP ROBINSON, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of De Kalb County. No. 99--CF--424 Honorable Douglas R. Engel, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Grometer

The State appeals from an order of the circuit court that dismissed its amended information. The amended information charged defendant, Phillip Robinson, with committing the offense of the unlawful use of weapons in violation of section 24--1(a)(7)(iii) of the Criminal Code of 1961 (Code) (720 ILCS 5/24--1(a)(7)(iii) (West 1998)) by knowingly possessing a bomb. The State contends that the trial court erred when it concluded that the phrase in section 24--1(a)(7)(iii) "containing an explosive substance of over one-quarter ounce" (720 ILCS 5/24-- 1(a)(7)(iii) (West 1998)) was an element of the offense and therefore had to be included in the amended information. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

 The State's appeal requires us to construe section 24-- 1(a)(7)(iii), which provides:

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

(7) [s]ells, manufactures, purchases, possesses or carries:

(iii) any bomb, bomb-shell, grenade, bottle or other container containing an explosive substance of over one- quarter ounce for like purposes, such as, but not limited to, black powder bombs and Molotov cocktails or artillery projectiles[.]" 720 ILCS 5/24--1(a)(7)(iii) (West 1998).

The State initially charged defendant by complaint. The complaint alleged that defendant committed the offense of unlawful use of weapons in violation of section 24--1(a)(7)(iii)by knowingly manufacturing a pipe bomb.

The State later filed an information charging defendant with violating section 24--1(a)(7)(iii) by knowingly manufacturing a pipe bomb that contained an explosive substance. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the information asserting that it failed to allege the commission of an offense because it did not allege that the purported bomb contained an explosive substance "of over one-quarter ounce." Following a hearing on the matter, the trial court dismissed the information and gave the State leave to file an amended information.

The State then filed an amended information charging defendant with committing the offense of the unlawful use of weapons by violating section 24--1(a)(7)(iii) in that he "KNOWINGLY POSSESSED A BOMB." Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the amended information asserting that it failed to allege the commission of an offense because it did not allege that the purported bomb contained "an explosive substance of over one-quarter ounce." Defendant argued that the omitted phrase was an element of the offense. Following a hearing on the matter, the trial court dismissed the amended information. The State's timely notice of appeal and certification of impairment followed.

On appeal, the State contends that the trial court erred in dismissing the amended information. The State correctly posits that there is no statutory or other standard definition of the term "bomb." Relying on various authorities, the State asserts that, for the purposes of construing section 24--1(a)(7)(iii), "bomb" should be defined as an explosive device designed to cause damage to property or injury to persons. Based on this definition of "bomb," the State asserts that the phrase "containing an explosive substance of over one-quarter ounce" is not an element of the offense applicable to the possession of a bomb. The State reasons that a bomb could have less than one-quarter ounce of an explosive substance, and, therefore, the legislature could not have intended the phrase "over one-quarter ounce" to be an ...


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