People v. Espinoza, 2015 IL 118218 (December 2015). Episode 121 (Duration 7:59)
To what extent must the state identify the victim in the charging instrument?
State Pushing The Envelope
The story before the Illinois Supreme Court accepted this case was just how “intransigent” the State was with the lower court for refusing to name the minor victims in their complaint. See my previous story.
As set forth in section 111-3 of the Code, a defendant has a fundamental right to be informed of the nature and cause of criminal accusations made against him.
Because the requirement is founded upon the protection of the right of the accused against double jeopardy, it is a substantial requirement designed to safeguard a constitutional right and is not a mere technical rule. Although, neither section 111-3 nor the respective criminal code sections expressly state that the name of the victim is an element of the offense, it is well settled that “[w]here an indictment charges an offense either against persons or property, the name of the person or property injured, if known, must be stated, and the allegation must be proved as alleged.”
Effective January 1, 2014, the legislature added section 111-3(a-5) to the statute. That section states: “(a–5) If the victim is alleged to have been subjected to an offense involving an illegal sexual act including, but not limited to, a sexual offense defined in Article 11 or Section 10–9 of the Criminal Code of 2012, the charge shall state the identity of the victim by name, initials, or description.” 725 ILCS 5/111-3(a-5).
Not A Sex Case
Here, defendant was charged with domestic battery, and second defendant was charged with endangering the life or health of a child. Both domestic battery and endangering the life or health of a child are crimes on which the impact is focused upon an individual.
Accordingly, the identity of the victims was an essential allegation of the charging instruments. Consequently, the lower courts were correct that the State was required to include the names of the victims in each charging instrument in order to comply with section 111-3. When an indictment or information is challenged before trial, the indictment or information must strictly comply with the pleading requirements of section 111-3. If the indictment or information does not strictly comply with the pleading requirements of section 111-3, the proper remedy is dismissal.
- Dismissal is not going to be the standard remedy. What is suppose to happen is that the State makes the changes to the charging instrument. Here, the State was refusing to make the changes so the only remedy was the dismissal.
- Is there really any principled reason why Double Jeopardy ceases to be a concern when we are dealing with a sex case?
- Learn more about charging instruments in Illinois criminal court