Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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In 1998, the defendant was charged with predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, criminal sexual assault, and aggravated criminal sexual abuse. He pleaded guilty to predatory criminal sexual assault of a child and was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment. In 2013, Bolingbrook Officer Alexander was patrolling a municipal park around 4:30 p.m. when he observed a van improperly parked, checked the van’s plates, and learned that it was registered to the defendant. The defendant acknowledged that he was a child sex offender but stated that his registration requirement had expired in 2010. Alexander informed the defendant that, as a child sex offender, he was forbidden to be on park property. Though the defendant was unaware of the ban, he was arrested for violating 720 ILCS 5/11-9.4-1(b), which provides, “It is unlawful for a sexual predator or a child sex offender to knowingly be present in any ... public park.” The trial court rejected a challenge that the law was facially unconstitutional and sentenced the defendant to 24 months’ conditional discharge plus community service. The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the conviction and sentence, noting that the rational basis test does not require narrow tailoring. There is a rational relationship between protecting the public, particularly children, from sex offenders and prohibiting sex offenders who have been convicted of crimes against minors from being in public park. The court remanded for consideration of a challenge under the ex post facto clause. View "People v. Pepitone" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Manning’s second trial for first-degree murder established that the victim was a highly-intoxicated unwelcome visitor at a residence occupied by Manning and others. A fight ensued between the victim and four residents, including Manning. The victim was stabbed and died. Only Manning was armed. The court instructed the jury on self-defense and on second-degree murder, based on statutory mitigating factors: an unreasonable belief in the need for self-defense and provocation, with mutual combat being the requisite provocation, 720 ILCS 5/9-2(a) The jury asked: For approving mitigating factors to reduce charge to second-degree murder, if vote on mitigating factor is not unanimous, does it revert to first-degree murder? The court responded: Your verdict must be unanimous ... continue your deliberations. The jury found Manning guilty of first-degree murder. The court denied Manning’s request to poll the jury on the issue of mitigating factors. The Illinois Supreme Court upheld the conviction. A defendant’s failure to sustain his burden of convincing all 12 jurors that a mitigating factor exists does not nullify the jurors’ unanimous finding that the state has proven first-degree murder beyond a reasonable doubt. The response to the jury’s question was correct when considered with instructions the jurors had received that it may not consider whether the defendant has met his burden of proof with regard to second-degree murder until it has first determined that the state has proven beyond a reasonable doubt each element of first-degree murder.The statute places no burden on the state to disprove mitigating factors. View "People v. Manning" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Defendant pleaded guilty to violating an order of protection, a Class 4 felony based on his prior conviction (720 ILCS 5/12-3.4(d)). The parties did not agree to a sentence, but the state agreed not to prosecute two counts of aggravated battery of a peace officer and another count of violating an order of protection. The court explained that the offense carried a sentencing range of one to six years’ imprisonment but misstated that the offense required a one-year term of mandatory supervised release (MSR). The court accepted the plea agreement and sentenced Defendant to three years’ imprisonment and one year of MSR. A year later, at a hearing where Defendant was present without counsel. the court entered an amended order, indicating four years of MSR as required by 730 ILCS 5/5-8-1(d)(6). Defendant was released from prison onto MSR and moved to “correct” the mittimus to reflect the original imposition of a one-year MSR term, arguing that he would not have entered a plea if he had been properly advised that he was subject to a mandatory four-year MSR term. The court stated that the only option to correct the sentence was a mandamus action in the Illinois Supreme Court. That court granted the state’s mandamus petition. The record does not support Defendant’s suggestion that the trial court would have been inclined to reduce his prison term had it imposed the correct MSR. The court declined to enter a new rule to allow statutorily unauthorized sentences to be corrected at any time by motion in the circuit court. View "Berlin v. Bakalis" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Defendant was indicted on 15 charges of aggravated criminal sexual assault and three charges of criminal sexual assault. Before trial, the state successfully moved for admission other crimes evidence to show that defendant committed similar sexual assaults. Defense counsel indicated that Defendant intended to testify that the victims all consented to sex with Defendant in exchange for cash and drugs but that, after they provided the agreed services, Defendant took back the payments. Counsel asked the court to inquire of the venire whether “[t]he fact that you will hear evidence about … prostitution. Would that fact alone prevent you from being fair to either side?” The court refused, The victims testified about the attacks. Defendant testified. The jury found Defendant guilty. The appellate court remanded for a new trial. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed. There is no body of law indicating that the public harbors bias against the patrons of prostitutes to the extent that such a person’s testimony cannot be considered fairly. Defendant’s proffered question did not involve a matter that was indisputably true and inextricably a part of the trial but amounted to a preliminary argument regarding a disputed question of fact, which is generally not permitted. Even if the victims were prostitutes, it is difficult to conceive how a juror who could fairly judge the explicit sexual conduct would be rendered incapable of fairly judging defendant based on the fact he patronized prostitutes. View "People v. Encalado" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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A Robinson police officer heard a motorcycle “revving” before observing it making a “very wide” turn, nearly hitting a telephone pole. The officer followed, turned on his emergency lights, and activated his siren, but the motorcycle continued to weave across the road for about 12 blocks before turning into a driveway. The motorcycle was driven by Mark, whose wife, Petra, was a passenger on the back. Mark got off the motorcycle, exhibiting “a strong odor of alcohol,” slurred speech, and poor balance. A breath test revealed his blood alcohol concentration was 0.161, over twice the legal limit. Mark was charged with aggravated DUI and driving without a valid driver’s license. Since 1996, his license had been summarily suspended multiple times; it was revoked following his 2008 DUI conviction. That revocation was extended after he was convicted of driving with a revoked license. Police seized the 2010 Harley-Davidson. The state sought forfeiture (720 ILCS 5/36-1(a)(6)(A)(i)). Petra was shown to be the vehicle’s title owner, although Mark maintained it and had the key. The court entered an order of civil forfeiture, finding Petra’s testimony not credible, and that she consented to Mark driving, knowing he was intoxicated and did not have a valid license. The court rejected her claim that forfeiture constituted an as-applied violation of the Eighth Amendment's excessive fines clause. The Illinois Supreme Court agreed. Petra’s culpability in Mark’s aggravated DUI was far more than negligible and she did not establish the motorcycle’s value for purposes of showing disproportionality. View "Hartrich v. 2010 Harley-Davidson" on Justia Law

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Chairez pled guilty to possessing a firearm within 1000 feet of a park in Aurora, Illinois. He filed a post-conviction petition, arguing that the statute was unconstitutional under the Second Amendment because an individual who is barred from carrying a firearm within 1000 feet of the locations listed in the statute (schools, public parks, public transportation facilities, residential properties owned, operated or managed by a public housing agency) is essentially barred from carrying a firearm in public. The circuit court declared section 24-1(a)(4)(c)(1.5) unconstitutional. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed, vacating Chairez’s conviction, without addressing other provisions of the statute. With respect to the provision concerning public parks, which is severable, the state provided no evidentiary support for its claims that prohibiting firearms within 1000 feet of a public park would reduce the risks posed to the police and public from dangerous weapons. The state merely speculates that the proximity of firearms threatens the health and safety of those in the public park. The lack of a valid explanation for how the law actually achieves its goal of protecting children and vulnerable populations from gun violence amounts to a failure by the state to justify the restriction on gun possession within 1000 feet of a public park. View "People v. Chairez" on Justia Law

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Chicago police officers executed a search warrant at an apartment, forced entry and detained four individuals. Officers approached a locked, rear room, knocked and heard people moving, but got no response. Forcing entry, officers saw defendant holding a handgun (loaded with live rounds) and plastic bags, one containing 53 smaller bags of suspected crack cocaine and the other containing 92 bags of suspected heroin. Drugs, cash, ammunition, and narcotics packaging materials were also recovered from other areas. A chemist verified the contents of the bags defendant was holding. Defendant had prior convictions for robbery and aggravated robbery. Defendant was convicted as an armed habitual criminal, armed violence, and two counts of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver. The possession counts merged into the armed violence count. Defendant was sentenced to 7 years in prison on the armed habitual criminal count, consecutive to 15 years on the armed violence count. Consecutive sentences were mandated under Unified Code of Corrections section 5-8-4(d)(3). The appellate court and Illinois Supreme Court affirmed, rejecting defendant’s argument that his convictions for both armed violence and armed habitual criminal violated the one-act, one-crime rule because they were predicated on the same physical act of gun possession. The offenses did not result from precisely the same physical act and neither was a lesser-included offense of the other. Defendant’s conduct consisted of possession of the handgun and possession of the drugs. Although the two offenses shared the common act of possession of the handgun, the armed violence conviction involved a separate act, possessing the drugs. View "People v. Coats" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Defendant and his brother, Jimmy, ambushed armored truck guards. Defendant was shot in the head. Jimmy died from gunshot wounds. Defendant was charged with first-degree felony murder based on attempted armed robbery (720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(3)), attempted armed robbery while armed with a firearm (8-4, 18-2(a)(2)), and unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon (24-1.1(a)). Defendant was found fit to stand trial although his ability to recollect the incident was impaired. Possession of a firearm was an element of the predicate offense to attempted armed robbery. Jimmy had an apparent sawed-off shotgun that actually consisted of metal pipes taped to a piece of wood. Defendant had an inoperable unloaded .22-caliber derringer. Before jury selection, the state entered a nolle prosequi on attempted armed robbery and unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon charges. During the jury instruction conference, the prosecutor sought a firearm sentencing enhancement instruction. Defense counsel objected. The jury found defendant guilty of first-degree murder while armed with a firearm. The court sentenced defendant to 25 years’ plus a 15-year term for possession of a firearm. The appellate court reversed because count I did not identify which of the attempted armed robbery offenses was the predicate for the felony murder charge. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed. Defendant was aware that the felony murder charge was predicated on attempted armed robbery with a firearm; his attorney presented a defense to that charge. Neither defendant nor the appellate court identified what other actions defendant could have taken, had the count I allegations particularly referenced possession of a firearm. View "People v. Carey" on Justia Law

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