In a recent Illinois appellate decision, the defendant was convicted for being an armed habitual criminal and sentenced to eight years in prison. He appealed, arguing that he wasn’t proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt for the offense of armed habitual criminal, and the armed habitual criminal statute was not unconstitutional because it potentially criminalized totally innocent actions.
The case arose when two officers were patrolling. They heard a car alarm go off and found the car that was the source of the alarm. Nearby in another car, a couple was sitting in a parked car. The smell of marijuana was coming from the car. When he saw the officers come into the parking lot, the defendant left the front seat of the car and stood by it. The officer testified he’d left his own car and come up to the defendant. As he came closer, he saw that the woman driver was smoking what looked like a marijuana cigar. She put it down. A bottle of liquor was on the console.
In the interests of his own safety, the officer handcuffed the defendant. His partner came up to the driver and asked her to get out of the car. She said her identification was in the car, so the officer took the marijuana and liquor out of the car and searched for her ID. He saw her purse on the floor, and from it, a handgun was sticking out in plain view. He recovered the gun, which was a semiautomatic handgun that was loaded.