Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 12th Judicial Circuit, Will County, Illinois. Circuit No. 11-CM-3893. Honorable Carmen Goodman, Judge, Presiding.
Defendant's conviction for possession of syringes under the Hypodermic Syringes and Needles Act based on his possession of nearly 500 used and uncapped hypodermic syringes was reversed on the ground that defendant was a card-holding member of the Chicago Recovery Alliance, a " needle exchange" program intended to slow the spread of human immunodeficiency virus among intravenous drug users and defendant fell within the statutory exemption allowing persons engaged in " scientific research" to possess more than 20 hypodermic needles, since the " needle exchange" program was an entity engaged in scientific research.
Michael J. Pelletier and Editha Rosario-Moore, both of State Appellate Defender's Office, of Ottawa, for appellant.
James Glasgow, State's Attorney, of Joliet (Mark A. Austill, of State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's Office, of counsel), for the People.
JUSTICE SCHMIDT delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Holdridge and Wright concurred in the judgment and opinion.
[¶1] Defendant, Bruno Presa, was charged with one count of possession of syringes under section 1 of the Hypodermic Syringes and Needles Act (Act) (720 ILCS 635/1 (West 2010)), when he was found in possession of approximately 500 used and uncapped hypodermic syringes in a cardboard box in his bedroom. Defendant was a card-holding member of the Chicago Recovery Alliance (CRA), a " needle exchange" program that aims to slow the spread of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) among intravenous drug users. At a bench trial, defendant argued that he met the statutory exemption for a person engaged in " scientific research," through his participation in CRA's program. See 720 ILCS 635/1(a) (West 2010). The court found defendant guilty. Defendant appeals, arguing the evidence was insufficient to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The State concedes, and we reverse.
[¶3] Defendant was charged by information with " Unlawful Possession of Hypodermic Syringe or Needle" under section 1 of the Act (720 ILCS 635/1 (West 2010)). The charging information alleged:
" [D]efendant, knowingly and unlawfully had in his possession an instrument, namely a hypodermic syringe and needle, or any other instrument so adapted for the use of controlled substances by subcutaneous injection and the defendant was not in possession of such aforementioned instrument by reason of or during the course of his official duties, and the defendant was not in possession of such aforementioned instrument acting under the direction of a medical doctor, dentist or hospital supervisor ***."
Section 1 reads:
" (a) Except as provided in subsection (b), no person, not being *** a person engaged in chemical, clinical, pharmaceutical or other scientific research, shall have in his possession a hypodermic syringe, hypodermic needle, or any instrument adapted for the use ...