People v. Gray, 2017 IL 120958 (September). Episode 410 (Duration 8:33)
Although they had stopped dating for 20 years defendant was still in a “family or household member” of the victim.
Defendant and the victim, Tina Carthron, spent the evening together drinking.
She sustained knife wounds to her chest and back. Defendant was charged by information with two counts of attempted first degree murder (720 ILCS 5/8-4(a), 9-1(a)) and two counts of aggravated battery (720 ILCS 5/12-3.05(a)(5), (f)(1)).
Defendant was also charged with three counts of aggravated domestic battery, alleging great bodily harm (720 ILCS 5/12-3.3(a)), permanent disfigurement, and strangulation (720 ILCS 5/12-3.3(a-5)).
In the State’s case-in-chief, Carthron testified in pertinent part as follows.
Carthron was 51 years old. She was born in Chicago and had lived there her entire life. Carthron had known defendant for approximately 20 years. She began to spend time with defendant based on the friendship between their families. Fifteen years ago, they dated for approximately two years. They dated each other exclusively, and they slept over at their respective residences.
In early October 2011, Carthron saw defendant outside of his new apartment.
Several times thereafter she visited defendant at his apartment. On one visit, she brought some clothes and left them at defendant’s apartment when she went to work.
Carthron was not interested in rekindling their romantic relationship, but rather, they remained “just friends.”
On November 1, 2011, defendant telephoned Carthron, and she went to his apartment.
It consisted of a single room, which included a kitchenette, and a bathroom. Carthron brought whiskey and beer, and she and defendant spent the evening drinking together. Carthron drank approximately a pint of whiskey and 40 ounces of beer.
During that evening, defendant’s girlfriend, Laura Moore, telephoned defendant. Carthron became upset, believing that it was disrespectful for defendant to talk to another woman in Carthron’s presence. After the call, Carthron and defendant argued, but they eventually listened to music, watched television, and had sex.
Defendant went to bed.
Carthron continued drinking.
Carthron testified that she “still was drunk” the next morning. At approximately 7:00 a.m., as she and defendant lay in bed, they argued about the telephone call from Moore. Defendant then climbed on top of Carthron, placed his hands on the front of her neck, and began to strangle her. She passed out. When Carthron regained consciousness, she saw defendant standing in the bathroom holding a knife.
Defendant told Carthron to leave because he had called the police.
“You Didn’t Stab Me.”
Carthron began to gather her clothes to get dressed.
As she grabbed her coat, Carthron saw that the left side of her chest was bleeding and said “oh no, you didn’t stab me.”
According to Carthron, defendant said in response: “Get out.”
Carthron testified: “He just kept saying get out. He had called the police on me.”
On cross-examination, Carthron testified that she did not remember defendant stabbing her. She also acknowledged that she was “kind of drunk” that morning and did not remember biting defendant. Carthron left defendant’s apartment dressed in only her jeans and a leather jacket, leaving behind her cell phone, eyeglasses, and underwear.
Carthron saw police officers outside of defendant’s apartment building. However, she did not approach them because she did not know what defendant had told them. Once the jacket was off, they discovered that Carthron had also been stabbed in the back. Suzette called 911, and Carthron was taken by ambulance to a hospital for treatment.
The court sentenced defendant to concurrent five-year prison terms on the aggravated domestic battery convictions and a concurrent three-year prison term on the aggravated battery conviction.
On appeal, defendant challenged the sufficiency of the evidence against him, and claimed that section 112A-3(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 (Code of Criminal Procedure) (725 ILCS 5/112A-3(3)), which defined family or household members, is unconstitutional as applied to him and his relationship to Carthron.
The appellate court held that, because the relationship between defendant and Carthron was no longer under the effect of the prior romantic intimacy that had existed 15 years earlier, the definition of household or family member is unconstitutional as applied to defendant. See Episode 190.
As -Applied Challenge
In an as-applied challenge, the challenging party’s particular facts and circumstances become relevant.
“An as-applied challenge requires a showing that the statute violates the constitution as it applies to the facts and circumstances of the challenging party.”
When we are confronted with an as-applied challenge, we examine the facts of the case before us exclusively, and not any set of hypothetical facts under which the statute might be unconstitutional. While a successful facial attack voids the statute in its entirety and in all applications, a successful as-applied challenge enjoins enforcement of the statute only against the challenging party.
Rationale Basis Test
In the case at bar, defendant does not claim that the statutory definition of a family or household member deprives him of a fundamental constitutional right. When a challenged statute does not affect a fundamental constitutional right, the appropriate test for determining its constitutionality is the rational basis test.
A statute will be upheld under the rational basis test if the statute bears a reasonable relationship to the public interest to be served and the means adopted are a reasonable method of achieving the desired objective. In other words, a statute will be upheld if it bears a rational relationship to a legitimate legislative purpose and is neither arbitrary nor discriminatory.
While not “toothless,” the rational basis test is highly deferential.
A court is not concerned with the wisdom of the statute or with whether it is the best means to achieve the legislature’s desired result. “The judgments made by the legislature in crafting a statute are not subject to courtroom fact-finding and may be based on rational speculation unsupported by evidence or empirical data.” Arangold Corp. v. Zehnder, 204 Ill. 2d 142, 147 (2003).
If there is any conceivable basis for determining that the statute is rationally related to a legitimate state interest, the law must be upheld. In applying the rational basis test, a court must first ascertain the purpose of the statute to determine whether the statute’s provisions reasonably implement that purpose.
Family Or Household Member
Further, section 12-0.1 of the Criminal Code provides, in relevant part, the following definition:
“Family or household members’ include *** persons who have or have had a dating or engagement relationship. *** For purposes of this Article, neither a casual acquaintanceship nor ordinary fraternization between 2 individuals in business or social contexts shall be deemed to constitute a dating relationship.”
By its plain language, “[t]he statute is very clear that there is no time limit.”
Unable to identify “any objective that would be furthered by treating Carthron as defendant’s family or household member,” the appellate court concluded that treating Carthron as defendant’s family or household member was not reasonably related to a public interest. 2016 IL App (1st) 134012, ¶ 47.
In the case at bar, the appellate court observed that “the State has an interest in preventing abuse between persons who share an intimate relationship.”
The legislature’s obvious concern in enacting the domestic battery statute was in curbing the serious problem of domestic violence.
The legislature could rationally have believed that persons who have had a dating relationship are more likely to batter a former partner even after their dating relationship ends. The absence of a time limit on former dating relationships recognizes that such relationships may render persons more vulnerable to abuse by former romantic partners.
Indeed, not only is this rational basis conceivable, it is generally recognized. As one scholar has explained:
“One reason violence in a relationship differs from random violence between strangers is that the perpetrator takes advantage of the relationship to gain access to the victim. Relationships built on close personal interactions inevitably involve parties gaining information about each other. *** Such knowledge enables the accessibility that makes domestic violence most harmful, as it increases the victim’s exposure and vulnerability to the abuser. Therefore, accessibility and familiarity between abuser and victim can make violence between the two particularly problematic. *** Also, when the relationship comes to an end, the abuser may still exploit the relationship, continuing to access the victim, carrying on the abusive and controlling behavior.”
In other words, accessibility and familiarity enable domestic violence to be ongoing and to effectively intimidate and control the victim.
They Were Close
Defendant and Carthron had known each other for 20 years, and their families were neighbors.
- Even though their two-year dating relationship had ended 15 years earlier, they continued to see each other, and their relationship remained close.
- Carthron left her clothes at defendant’s apartment and sometimes spent the night with defendant.
- The night before the stabbing, defendant and Carthron spent the evening drinking and talking.
- Indeed, the argument that led to the stabbing began when defendant accepted a telephone call from another woman in Carthron’s presence, which she considered to be “disrespectful.”
- That night, defendant and Carthron spent the night together.
- Further, defendant referred to Carthron as his “girlfriend” to the 911 operator.
- The record demonstrates a level of accessibility and familiarity between Carthron and defendant such that it is reasonable to place Carthron within the protection of the aggravated domestic battery statute.
Applying this generally accepted rational basis to the circumstances of the case at bar, it is reasonable to regard defendant and Carthron as family or household members for purposes of the domestic battery statute.
We conclude that the legislature’s decision not to include a time limit on former dating relationships, when applied to the facts of the instant case, was reasonable and rationally related to the statutory purpose of curbing domestic violence.
Accordingly, we hold that the definition of family or household members in section 12-0.1 of the Criminal Code did not violate substantive due process as applied to defendant. The judgment of the appellate court is reversed, and the cause is remanded to the appellate court for further proceedings.