Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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In 1996, defendant was indicted for the manufacture or delivery of cocaine in excess of 900 grams, a Class X felony. The Du Page County court granted bail; defendant posted a cash bond and regularly appeared in court. In June 1998, defendant failed to appear and his bond was forfeited. During the next 30 days, defendant did not surrender. A bench warrant issued for his arrest. A judgment was entered in the bail amount for the state. Defendant was tried in absentia and sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment. In 2014, police stopped defendant for a traffic offense. Defendant presented false identification. Later, defendant revealed his true identity and admitted he had used false identities. Defendant began serving his sentence and was indicted for the violation of his 1996 bail bond, a Class 1 felony. Defendant claimed that, under the general statute of limitations for felonies, the state had three years to bring that charge. The state filed a superseding information, which alleged continuing violation of bail bond (720 ILCS 5/32-10(a)) The appellate court concluded that a 1990 appellate decision, Grogan, was improperly decided and that violation of bail bond is a continuing offense. The Illinois Supreme Court agreed, reversing Grogan; violation of bail bond is a continuing offense under 720 ILCS 5/3-8. The 2014 indictment was, however, untimely, because defendant's intervening conviction ended his duty to surrender and appear. View "People v. Casas" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Charged with first-degree murder, Staake was convicted of second-degree murder (720 ILCS 5/9-2(a)(1)) for the stabbing death of Michael Box. The appellate court affirmed, finding that the state’s amendments of the initial charge from second-degree to first-degree murder did not amount to a “new and additional” charge for speedy-trial purposes and Staake’s failure to make an offer of proof deprived the appellate court of a proper record to determine whether the trial court abused its discretion in granting the state’s motion in limine to preclude Staake from presenting evidence and argument as to an intervening cause of death (Box’s reluctance to accept medical treatment). The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. The first-degree murder charge was not a new and additional charge; it relates back to the original second-degree murder charge. Any delays attributable to Staake on the initial charge are also attributable to him on the subsequent charge. Staake, having conceded that the state had proven causation beyond a reasonable doubt, cannot now claim that he was precluded from arguing a lack of causation; the trial court made it clear that its ruling in granting the motion in limine was conditional and based on a lack of evidence to show anything other than that the stab wound caused Box's death View "People v. Staake" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Brown was charged with being an armed habitual criminal and home invasion with a firearm. Brown entered a negotiated guilty plea to being an armed habitual criminal and was sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment, after the court explained that the charge was a Class X felony with a minimum sentence of six years and a maximum sentence of 30 years, and admonished Brown of his trial rights and the consequences of waiving those rights. Brown responded that he understood and that he agreed with the state's recommendation of 18 years. He denied that he was promised anything or forced to accept the plea. Brown later sought a reduction of sentence, asserting that he received ineffective assistance because his counsel erroneously advised that he would serve only 50% of his sentence. The statute requires a person convicted of armed habitual criminal to serve 85% of the sentence (730 ILCS 5/3-6-3(a)(2)(ii). The court dismissed without an evidentiary hearing. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. Brown’s allegations were insufficient to establish prejudice. There is little doubt that Brown would have been convicted of both charges and he has a significant criminal history. By pleading guilty, he received only a single felony conviction and a mid-range sentence. Brown avoided conviction for home invasion, a Class X felony with a mandatory 15-year firearm enhancement, for a sentencing range of 21-45 years’ imprisonment. Nothing in his plea colloquy demonstrates that Brown’s primary focus was serving 50% of his sentence; he denied that he was promised anything. View "People v. Brown" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Hardman was convicted of possessing 1-15 grams of heroin with intent to deliver within 1000 feet of a school, 720 ILCS 570/401(c)(1), 407(b)(1). At a sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed a public defender fee of $500, 725 ILCS 5/113-3.1(a). The appellate court affirmed Hardman’s conviction and sentence, vacated the public defender fee, remanded for a new hearing on whether the public defender fee was appropriate, and amended the mittimus. The Illinois Supreme Court rejected Hardman’s argument that, for purposes of demonstrating that an offense took place within 1000 feet of a school under section 407(b), the state was required to present particularized evidence that a building was an “active” ­ or “operational” school on the day of the offense; the status of the area at issue could be inferred from the testimony of two officers with demonstrated familiarity with the area. The court remanded assessment of the public defender reimbursement fee, which did not comply with section 113-3.1(a). Among other deficiencies, the trial court did not consider Hardman’s financial circumstances and did not obtain a financial affidavit. View "People v. Hardman" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Brooks was charged with driving under the influence (625 ILCS 5/11-501(a)(2) following a single-vehicle motorcycle accident. The state subpoenaed blood test results from the hospital where Brooks was taken after the accident. He moved to suppress the results on the ground that the blood draw was a governmental search conducted in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Brooks alleged that, after the accident, police officers forcibly “placed him in an ambulance and sent him to the hospital,” even though he had refused medical treatment. The circuit court granted defendant’s motion. The appellate court affirmed. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed. Brooks presented no evidence that his blood was actually drawn at the hospital. Although this matter was within his personal knowledge, Brooks never testified that he was subjected to a blood draw but stated only that he refused to consent to having his blood drawn. In addition there was no evidence that any police officer sought or encouraged a blood draw or was even aware that one had been done. Even assuming blood was drawn at the hospital, it was a private search that did not implicate the Fourth Amendment. View "People v. Brooks" on Justia Law

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In consolidated appeals concerning an amendment to the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 (705 ILCS 405/5-130), which eliminated armed robbery while armed with a firearm and aggravated vehicular hijacking while armed with a firearm from the list of automatic transfer offenses, and the new juvenile sentencing provisions codified in section 5-4.5-105 of the Unified Code of Corrections (730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-105), which give the trial court discretion not to impose otherwise mandatory firearm sentencing enhancements, the appellate court rejected defendants’ arguments for retroactive application of these statutes to their cases that were pending on direct review when the statutes became effective and affirmed defendants’ convictions and sentences. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. The amendment to section 5-130(1)(a) of the Act did not become effective until after trial court proceedings were concluded; no reversible error necessitated remand for further proceedings to which the amended statute could apply, so the amendment does not apply retroactively to the case at issue. Both defendants were sentenced well before the new juvenile sentencing provisions, including subsection (b), became effective and the defendants make no claim that error occurred in the trial court that would require vacatur of their sentences and remand for resentencing. View "People v. Hunter" on Justia Law

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Defendant had worked as an intern at the radio station Blakey managed but was rejected for employment. After he repeatedly tried to contact station employees, defendant was informed that he was not welcome at the station and should stop making contact. He continued his behavior. Defendant was convicted of stalking (720 ILCS 5/12-7.3(a)(1), (a)(2)) and cyberstalking (720 ILCS 5/12-7.5(a)(1), (a)(2)), based on allegations that he called Blakey, sent her e-mails, stood outside of her place of employment, entered her place of employment, used electronic communication to make Facebook postings expressing his desire to have sex with Blakey and threatening her coworkers and employer and that he knew or should have known that his conduct would cause a reasonable person to fear for her safety and to suffer emotional distress. The appellate court vacated the convictions, finding subsection (a) of the statutes invalid. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the speech restrictions imposed by subsection (a) do not fit within any of the “historic and traditional” categories of unprotected speech under the First Amendment. Subsection (a) does not require that the prohibited communications be in furtherance of an unlawful purpose. Given the wide range of constitutionally protected activity covered by subsection (a), a substantial number of its applications are unconstitutional when judged in relation to its legitimate sweep. The portion of subsection (a) that makes it criminal to negligently “communicate[ ] to or about” a person, where the speaker knows or should know the communication would cause a reasonable person to suffer emotional distress, is facially unconstitutional. View "People v. Relerford" on Justia Law

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A 2015 petition for adjudication of wardship charged the minor, JB, with criminal trespass to a motor vehicle, a Class A misdemeanor (720 ILCS 5/21-2). JB pled guilty. The circuit court sentenced him to 12 months’ court supervision, 30 days’ stayed detention, and community service, informing him that under section 5-710(1)(b), if he violated the terms of his supervision, it could place him on probation or hold him in custody for up to 30 days or send him to the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). At the time, the maximum sentence for a Class A misdemeanor was less than one year of incarceration. During the months that followed, JB repeatedly left his placement, had warrants issued for his arrest, served time in the juvenile temporary detention center, and was repeatedly warned that he could be sentenced to the DJJ. In February 2016, the court found it to be in JB’s best interest to commit him to the DJJ. JB argued that an amendment to section 5-710(1)(b) of the Juvenile Court Act, effective on January 1, 2016, precluded the court from committing him to the DJJ for his misdemeanor offense. The appellate court and Illinois Supreme Court affirmed the commitment order. Section 5-720(4) focuses on the sentences available under section 5-710 at the time of a minor’s initial sentence. JB’s conduct of leaving his residential placement merely provided the grounds for revoking his probation; the court did not sentence him to the DJJ for a new offense. The commitment sentence constituted a resentencing for the original, underlying offense. View "In re Jarquan B." on Justia Law

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The Cook County circuit court found sections of the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 (705 ILCS 405/5-101(3), 5-605(1) unconstitutional as applied to Destiny who was 14 years old when she was charged with four counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted murder, one count of aggravated battery with a firearm, three counts of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, and one count of unlawful possession of a weapon. The court held that these sections, which do not provide jury trials for first-time juvenile offenders charged with first-degree murder, violated the equal protection clauses of the U.S. and Illinois Constitutions, but rejected the defense argument that these sections were unconstitutional on due process grounds. On direct appeal, the Illinois Supreme Court affirmed with respect to the due process challenge but reversed with respect to equal protection. Destiny cannot show that she is similarly situated to the comparison groups: recidivist juvenile offenders charged with different crimes and tried under one of two recidivist statutes. These are the only classes of juvenile offenders who face mandatory incarceration if adjudicated delinquent and the legislature has denied a jury trial only to the former. The two classes are charged with different crimes, arrive in court with different criminal backgrounds, and are tried and sentenced under different statutes with distinct legislative purposes. Due process does not mandate jury trials for juveniles. View "In re Destiny P." on Justia Law

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Reese escaped from custody during a medical appointment, stabbed the guard, then jumped onto a hospital shuttle bus and told the driver, Rimmer: If you stop, I’m gonna stab you in the neck. After driving a short distance, Rimmer opened the door, causing the bus to stop suddenly. Rimmer grabbed Reese’s arm. Reese stabbed Rimmer in the face and chest, broke free, ran outside, and was tackled by police. Reese never drove the bus or gave directions on where to drive. He was charged with aggravated vehicular hijacking (720 ILCS 5/18-4(a)(3), vehicular invasion (720 ILCS 5/12-11.1), attempted armed robbery (720 ILCS 5/8-4, 18-2), and escape (720 ILCS 5/31-6). He represented himself and asked to have his leg shackles removed. The judge stated both counsel tables would be covered with drapes. The court asked potential jurors if anything about defendant’s appearance “with this drapery in front of him” would affect their ability to be fair. One potential juror expressed confusion; two did not respond. The court granted the prosecution’s motion to introduce defendant’s prior murder conviction for impeachment and ordered removal of Reese’s shackles during trial. Reese testified, asserting that he did not commit the murder, that he tried to escape because his health was failing and he had been beaten by guards before his murder trial, and that he never threatened Remmer. Convicted, Reese was sentenced to concurrent sentences of 50 years for hijacking, 30 years for vehicular invasion, 30 years for attempted armed robbery, and 14 years for escape, consecutive to the sentence for murder. The Illinois Supreme Court upheld the convictions. Aggravated vehicular hijacking encompasses taking actual physical possession of a vehicle but may also be committed when a defendant exercises control of the vehicle by use or threat of force with the victim still present. View "People v. Reese" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law