Lesser included offense Illinois analysis means that obstructing a peace officer is probably always a lesser included offense of aggravated battery to a peace officer. Apparently, he kicked a correctional officer while in the Cook County jail. He was acquitted after a bench trial but found guilty of the lesser-included offense of obstructing a peace officer.
People v. Moman, 2014 IL App (1st) 130088 (08/14/2014). Was this uncharged conviction proper?
Defendant was charged with aggravated battery to a peace officer.
Defendant, an inmate at the jail, was scheduled for an appointment at the jail's hospital. Defendant was sitting in the waiting room. He repeatedly attempted to open the emergency room door. Eventually, officers tried to shackle his leg to the bench.
The officer testified that is when Defendant kicked him in the back three times. The court 100% believed the officer but ruled that Defendant was not “necessarily looking to attack [the officer], but was arguing and getting physical about the fact that he was being restrained and ordered around in the jail.”
On a side note, this is not a proper basis for an acquittal. Unless, the court thought Defendant did not have the required mental state. Defendant probably got away with one here. It is not clear what the basis for the ruling was.
The trial court then found defendant guilty of the lesser included offense of obstructing a peace officer with injuries.
Is obstructing a peace officer a lesser included offense of aggravated battery to a peace officer justifying the conviction of an uncharged offense in this case?
It is well settled that a defendant has a due process right to notice of the charges brought against him. “For this reason, a defendant may not be convicted of an offense he has not been charged with committing.” People v. Kolton, 219 Ill. 2d 353, 359 (2006).
Yet, a defendant may be convicted of an uncharged offense if it is a lesser-included offense of a crime the defendant is expressly charged with.
“Charging Instrument Approach” is the Lesser Included Offense Illinois Analysis
The charging instrument approach is used to determine if an offense is a lesser-included offense of a charged offense. See People v. Kennebrew, 2013 IL 113998, ¶ 32.
There is a two step approach
- First, look “to the allegations in the charging instrument to see whether the description of the greater offense contains a broad foundation or main outline of the lesser offense” and
- Second, if yes, we then must “examine the evidence adduced at trial to decide whether the evidence rationally supports a conviction on the lesser offense.”
Kolton, 219 Ill. 2d at 361.
This is not an exact match of the elements. “[A]n offense may be deemed a lesser-included offense even though every element of the lesser offense is not explicitly contained in the indictment, as long as the missing element can be reasonably inferred.” Id. at 364.
The charging instrument alleged that defendant kicked the correctional officer while he was “performing his official duties.” See Illinois Compiled Statutes Criminal Code section for aggravated battery to a peace officer under 720 ILCS 5/12-3.05(d)(4)(i). These allegations sufficiently mirror a charge that defendant obstructed a “correctional institution employee,” while he was performing an “authorized act within his official capacity.” 720 ILCS 5/31-1(a).
Although the indictment does not use language identical to the obstructing a peace officer statute, it stated facts from which the elements of obstructing a peace officer could be reasonably inferred.
The indictment did not have to plead with specificity the facts supporting each element of obstructing a peace officer; it simply had to plead facts from which the statutory elements of the offense of obstructing a peace officer could be reasonably inferred.
The defendant was afforded due process. The allegations of the indictment stated a “broad foundation or main outline” of the offense of obstructing a peace officer such that defendant was put on notice of the possibility that he could be convicted of that lesser offense.
Rarely, probably never, will there be acts that constitute “official duties” and not be “authorized act[s] within an officer’s official capacity”.