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The People of the State of Illinois v. Christopher T. Hoffman

October 31, 2012

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS,
PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
CHRISTOPHER T. HOFFMAN,
DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kane County. No. 08-CM-5362 Honorable Linda S. Abrahamson, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice McLAREN

JUSTICE McLAREN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Zenoff and Schostok concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

¶ 1 In violation of the explicit terms of an order of protection, defendant, Christopher T. Hoffman, sent text messages to his estranged wife concerning matters such as a family vacation, tickets to a concert, and the broadcast of a movie on television. Based on these acts, defendant was charged with violating the order of protection (720 ILCS 5/12-30(a) (West 2008)). A jury was impaneled, and, following the close of all of the evidence, the jury was given the Illinois Pattern Jury Instructions (IPI) that apply in cases where a defendant is charged with violating an order of protection. The jury was not given the non-IPI instruction that defendant proposed, which specifically indicated that he could be found guilty of violating the order of protection only if the jury found that he acted with knowledge and intent. The jury found defendant guilty, and he moved for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict (725 ILCS 5/116-1 (West 2008)), arguing, among other things, that the jury should have been given his proposed non-IPI instruction. The trial court denied the motion and sentenced defendant to, among other things, 24 months of probation. Defendant timely appeals, claiming that the jury should have been given his proposed non-IPI instruction. We disagree, and, thus, we affirm.

¶ 2 The facts relevant to resolving this appeal are as follows. Jacquelynn Hoffman, defendant's estranged wife, testified that she had an interim order of protection against defendant and that, when that order was entered, defendant had agreed to its terms. According to the order of protection, defendant could contact Jacquelynn only about matters concerning the parties' children, visitation with the children, and the Internet connection that Jacquelynn and the children shared.

¶ 3 Between August 21, 2008, and August 23, 2008, defendant contacted Jacquelynn at least seven times. In text messages defendant sent to Jacquelynn during that time, defendant asked to come to the marital home where Jacquelynn and the children lived so that he could retrieve various items. Additionally, in these text messages, defendant expressed his dissatisfaction with Jacquelynn involving her attorney in the parties' legal matters, advised Jacquelynn that he had two tickets to a concert that he could give to her, proposed that the parties and their children go on a vacation together, encouraged Jacquelynn to watch a movie that was being televised, and told Jacquelynn, against his attorney's advice, how his attorney planned to defend him. At the end of many of these text messages, defendant expressed his love for Jacquelynn. When asked how she felt when she received these messages, Jacquelynn testified that the messages were harassing and that she felt threatened by them.

¶ 4 Officer William Holmeyer testified that he was on duty at the front desk of the police department when Jacquelynn came to the police station to turn over custody of the parties' children to defendant for visitation. At that time, Jacquelynn told Officer Holmeyer about the text messages she had received from defendant. Officer Holmeyer examined the content of the text messages and reviewed the interim order of protection. Thereafter, defendant arrived at the police station, and Officer Holmeyer asked defendant about the text messages he had sent to Jacquelynn. Defendant admitted that he had sent the text messages, and he told Officer Holmeyer that he knew the messages were "outside the bounds of" the interim order of protection.

¶ 5 During the jury instruction conference, the State offered jury instruction No. 14, which was based on Illinois Pattern Jury Instructions, Criminal, No. 11.78 (4th ed. 2000) (hereinafter, IPI Criminal 4th No. 11.78). That instruction provided:

"To sustain a charge of violation of an order of protection, the State must prove the following propositions:

First proposition: That [defendant] contacted Jacquelynn Hoffman; and Second proposition: That an order of protection prohibited [defendant] from committing that act; and

Third proposition: That the order of protection was in effect at the time [defendant] contacted Jacquelynn Hoffman; and

Fourth proposition: That at the time [defendant] contacted Jacquelynn Hoffman, he had been served notice of the contents of an order of protection or otherwise had actual knowledge of the contents of the order.

If you find from your consideration of all the evidence that each one of these propositions has been proved beyond a reasonable doubt, you should find the defendant guilty.

If you find from your consideration of all the evidence that any one of the propositions has not been proved beyond a reasonable doubt, you ...


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