The Appellate Court found that the supplemental instruction was erroneous
because it informed the jury that a person is considered armed with a dangerous
weapon if he carries a Category I, Category II, or Category III weapon, and defined
a Category I weapon as a “handgun, sawed-off shotgun, sawed-off rifle, any other
firearm small enough to be concealed upon the person, semi-automatic firearm,
or machine gun.” The court concluded that this instruction could have misled the
jury into believing that the handgun used by the defendant was dangerous per se,
thus relieving the State of its obligation to prove that the weapon was either
loaded and operable, actually used as a bludgeon, or capable of being used as a
bludgeon. Because the supplemental instruction could have relieved the State of
its burden to prove that the gun was a dangerous weapon, reversible error
The court concluded that the error was not harmless where the only issue
at trial was whether defendant was armed with a dangerous weapon, a finding of
dangerousness could only have been based on a finding that the gun was actually
used as a bludgeon, and the supplemental instruction allowed the jury to sidestep
that issue simply because the weapon was a handgun.
The conviction was reversed and the cause remanded for a new trial.
(Defendant was represented by Assistant Defender Emily Filpi, Chicago.)
SEARCH & SEIZURE
People v. Mains, 2012 IL App (2d) 110262 (No. 2-11-0262, 5/11/12)
Community caretaking is an exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant
requirement. The exception applies where: (1) the officer is performing a function
other than the investigation of a crime, and (2) the search or seizure was
reasonable because it was undertaken to protect the safety of the general public.
Both criteria are determined objectively. The mere fact that an officer asks for
identifying information does not demonstrate that the officer was conducting a
criminal investigation, as an officer may request identification from an individual
even during a consensual encounter.
A police officer observed defendant driving a malfunctioning vehicle with its
emergency lights flashing down a multilane road with moderate traffic at a very
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