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People v. Olsson

December 02, 2002

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
SUSAN OLSSON, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from Circuit Court of Champaign County No. 01CM14 Honorable Jeffrey B. Ford, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Knecht

Defendant Susan Olsson was charged by information for violation of a protective order. 720 ILCS 5/12-30 (West 1998). The information alleged defendant violated an order that prohibited defendant from telephoning her sister, Lisa Olsson, and a minor child. Defendant moved to dismiss the charge. Defendant argued section 12-30 of the Criminal Code of 1961 (Criminal Code) (720 ILCS 5/12-30 (West 1998)) cannot be violated by a single telephone call even if a protective order prohibits that telephone call. The Circuit Court for the Sixth Judicial Circuit, Champaign County, agreed and dismissed the charge. The State appealed. We reverse.

I. BACKGROUND

In January 2000, the trial court granted Lisa Olsson's petition for an emergency protective order against defendant. Using a preprinted form, the trial court ordered defendant "to stay away from" Lisa Olsson and a minor child and "not communicate directly or indirectly with persons protected under this [o]rder, whether in person, by telephone, written notes, mail[,] or through third parties" through December 1, 2000.

In January 2001, the State charged defendant with violating the order of protection. The information alleged defendant knowingly committed an act prohibited by the order of protection in that she called Lisa Olsson on July 19, 2000, in violation of section 12-30 of the Criminal Code. Section 12-30 provides:

"A person commits violation of an order of protection if:

(1) He or she commits an act which was prohibited by a court *** in violation of:

(i) a remedy in a valid order of protection authorized under paragraph[] (1), (2), (3), (14), or (14.5) of subsection (b) of [s]section 214 of the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986." 720 ILCS 5/12-30 (West 1998).

In March 2001, defendant moved to dismiss the charge, alleging the charge failed to state an offense. Defendant argued violation of a protective order under section 12-30 may be stated only if there is an alleged violation of a prohibition or order authorized by subparagraph (1), (2), (3), (14), or (14.5) of section 214(b) of the Illinois Domestic Violence Act (750 ILCS 60/214(b) (West 1998)). Defendant maintained none of these subparagraphs authorized the trial court to prohibit communications by defendant to Lisa Olsson or the minor child and thus section 12-30 could not be violated by one nonharassing telephone call.

The State argued the charge stated an offense because section 214(b)(3) of the Illinois Domestic Violence Act authorized the trial court's no-contact-by-telephone order. Section 214(b)(3) authorizes courts to order a "respondent to stay away from petitioner." (Emphasis added.) 750 ILCS 60/214(b)(3) (West 1998). The State contended "stay away" means courts may prohibit nonphysical, as well as physical, contact with an abused. This interpretation, according to the State, is clear from the plain meaning of the term "stay away" and is consistent with the purposes of the Illinois Domestic Violence Act.

Defendant insisted, however, section 214(b)(3) of the Illinois Domestic Violence Act authorizes prohibitions of only personal, physical contact and not nonphysical communications. Defendant contended this interpretation is clear from the plain language of "stay away," as well as from the context of the language of section 214(b)(3).

After hearing in April 2001, the trial court agreed with defendant, holding "[i]t is clear that that subsection talks about physical presence, not other communications. It would appear that we are not then talking about any violations for crime for violation of [o]rder of [p]rotection." The trial court dismissed the charge. The State appeals.

II. ANALYSIS

This dispute involves one issue: the interpretation of the "stay[-]away" language in the Illinois Domestic Violence Act. Our review is de novo. People v. Bowden, 313 Ill. ...


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