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People v. Karberg

April 7, 2005

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
MATTHEW J. KARBERG, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Jo Daviess County. No. 04-CM-12. Honorable William A. Kelly, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Gilleran Johnson

The defendant, Matthew Karberg, was charged by information with harassment by telephone (720 ILCS 135/1--1(2) (West 2002)). On the defendant's oral motion, the trial court dismissed the information, based on the fact that the telephone book distributed in the area did not contain the statutorily required warning against placing harassing phone calls. The State appeals from this dismissal. We reverse.

[9]     On January 13, 2004, the defendant was charged by information with telephone harassment (720 ILCS 135/1--1(2) (West 2002)) for allegedly placing a telephone call to Michelle Mayo, at her place of business in Galena, Illinois, with the intent to threaten or harass her. A bench trial was scheduled to take place on September 10, 2004. On that date, before the trial began, the defendant made an oral motion to dismiss the information, arguing that the Galena area phone book did not contain the warning required by the Harassing and Obscene Communications Act (720 ILCS 135/1--1 (West 2002)). After determining that the phone book did not have the requisite warning, the trial court dismissed the information. The State filed its certificate of impairment and notice of appeal. The State's sole argument on appeal is that the trial court erred in dismissing the information.

Before addressing the State's contention, we note that the defendant has failed to file an appellee brief. However, the State's brief and the record are sufficient to resolve the issue appealed and, thus, we will consider the merits of the appeal. See People v. Schmidt, 286 Ill. App. 3d 322, 323 (1997).

Resolution of the State's contention is dependent upon the proper interpretation of section 1--1 of the Harassing and Obscene Communications Act. In interpreting the meaning of a statute, our primary concern is to ascertain and give effect to the true intent of the legislature. Paris v. Feder, 179 Ill. 2d 173, 177 (1997). The best evidence of legislative intent is the language used in the statute itself, which must be given its plain and ordinary meaning. People v. Hanna, 207 Ill. 2d 486, 497-98 (2003). The statute should be evaluated as a whole, with each provision construed in connection with every other section. Abrahamson v. Department of Professional Regulation, 153 Ill. 2d 76, 91 (1992). We may consider the reason and necessity for the law, the evils it was intended to remedy, and its ultimate aims. People v. Pullen, 192 Ill. 2d 36, 42 (2000). Also, we must assume that the legislature did not intend an absurd or unjust result. Pullen, 192 Ill. 2d at 42.

With these rules in mind, section 1--1 of the Harassing and Obscene Communications Act provides as follows:

"Harassment by telephone. Harassment by telephone is use of telephone communication for any of the following purposes:

(1) Making any comment, request, suggestion or proposal which is obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy or indecent with an intent to offend; or

(2) Making a telephone call, whether or not conversation ensues, with intent to abuse, threaten or harass any person at the called number; or

(3) Making or causing the telephone of another repeatedly to ring, with the intent to harass any person at the called number; or

(4) Making repeated telephone calls, during which conversation ensues, solely to harass any person at the called number; or

(4.1) Making a telephone call or knowingly inducing a person to make a telephone call for the purpose of harassing another person who is under 13 years of age, regardless of whether the person under 13 years of age consents to the harassment, if the defendant is at least 16 years of age at the time of the commission of the offense; or

(5) Knowingly permitting any telephone under one's control to be used for any of the purposes mentioned herein.

Every telephone directory published for distribution to members of the general public shall contain a notice setting forth a summary of the provisions of this Section. Such notice shall be printed in type which is no smaller than any other type on the same page and shall be preceded by the word 'WARNING'. All telephone companies in this State shall cooperate with law enforcement agencies in using their ...


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