June 2015 Illinois Criminal Case List – Fast and convenient summary of recent Illinois criminal court cases. Stay smart & informed in no time.
Get informed and up to speed on the latest case law.
Telling a jury that it is up to them to define reasonable doubt is a perfectly correct way to answer a request for a definition of the term, appellate court erred in its finding that the trial court gave a “wrong” response. People v. Downs
Jury Q: What is your definition of reasonable doubt, 80%, 70%, 60%? COURT: We cannot give you a definition it is your duty to define. Illinois Supreme Court ruled that this response was unquestionably correct. There was no error in the response. Court counseled against reading too much into the jury questions. They may not give us any insight at all into what they are thinking. Go to case.
Search & Seizure
Drug evidence was suppressed because the State’s Attorney’s special investigator who made the traffic stops was not authorized to act as a peace officer. People v. Ringland
State’s Attorney’s Office in LaSalle County assigned a special investigatory officer to their enforcement unit pursuant to 55 ILCS 5/3-9005(b). The investigator was a retired trooper hired by the SAO. He conducted traffic stops in the county to make drug arrests. The appellate court sustained the suppression of evidence because the conduct of the investigator exceeded the scope of section 3-9005(b).The plain language of section 3-9005(b) demonstrates that the legislature intended the functions of special investigators to be limited to the three functions listed. The prosecution of drug dealers and traffickers is indisputably a duty of the State’s Attorney; outfitting his own drug interdiction unit is not. Go to case
This stop was unreasonably prolonged when drug dog is walked around the car. People v. Pulling
Officer was given inconsistent information from the driver and passenger on where they were going. Officer’s Google search couldn’t confirm info either. So, cop stops writing the citations to walk the dog around. Trooper’s deviation from the purpose of the stop to conduct a drug investigation was not supported by independent reasonable suspicion, and therefore, it unlawfully prolonged the duration of the stop. Drugs suppressed. Rodriguez v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 1609 (2015) is cited. Go to case.
Cannabis suppressed after police execute an anticipatory warrant, but don’t wait for the triggering event. People v. Harris
Police arrested defendant moments after he had picked up a package delivered to his grandmother’s house. Police did not wait for the electronic device inside the package to signal that it had been opened. To accept a package means to receive and open it. Defendant’s confession is thus suppressed. Go to case.
The police did not error in searching a detached garage when they had a warrant to search the accompanying house. People v. Valle
Once a search warrant is issued police are free to search all other structures within the property to be searched. Here, the PC and the warrant was to search the house. The garage is mentioned in the description of the warrant. Court held it did not matter if the garage was mentioned or not because the police were authorized to search the entire curtilage of the house including any detached structures. Go to case.
Murder conviction reversed when trial judge injected accountability into the case even though the State never argued accountability. People v. Peoples
This was a drive by shooting where the targets returned fire. Victim gets shot in the head. State argued that Defendant personally shot and killed victim, and they never offered an accountability instruction. Jury asked if someone can be guilty and not pull the trigger? Judge answered “yes.” While it is ordinarily appropriate for a trial court to answer a question of law posed by the jury, the court should not submit new charges or new theories to the jury after the jury commences its deliberations. Go to case.
This drug conspiracy conviction must be reversed because conspiracy must be proven directly, no accountability instruction to prove a conspiracy is allowed. People v. Ulloa
Defendant was convicted of conspiracy to deliver more than 900 grams of a substance containing cocaine in violation of section 405.1 of the Illinois Controlled Substances Act (Act) (720 ILCS 570/405.1) when a drug deal went down with a van he rented and he ended up with the drug money. The trial court instructed the jurors to find Defendant guilty if they found that he “or one for whose conduct [he] is legally responsible” agreed to the delivery. The State charged only conspiracy to possess and deliver, there was no charge for possession or for the delivery. The State cannot prove the charge by showing that someone for whom Defendant bore legal responsibility agreed to the delivery, if he himself did not agree to the delivery. But the court’s instruction told the jurors to find him guilty even if he did not agree to the delivery, as long as someone for whom he bore legal responsibility agreed to the delivery. The pattern instruction (IPI 17.32) does not include the accountability language the court added here. Go to case.
In this DUI, it was error for the trial judge to suppress evidence due to a purported discovery violation. People v. Olson
20 ILCS 2610/30 does not provide a remedy for not complying with the recording requirement. Trial judge suppressed, in part, because the video of the FSTs could have been easily obtained by the officer with minor repositioning. The little trouble cost defendant a fair trial. Reviewing court noted that because no recording was made, the prosecution cannot be said to have violated section 30 by failing to preserve and produce a nonexistent recording. Statutes are mandatory if the intent of the legislature dictates a particular consequence for failure to comply with the provision. In the absence of such intent, the statute is directory and no particular consequence flows from noncompliance. It ruled that section 30 of the Act is directory and that no particular consequence is triggered from a failure to comply with it. Finally, Kladis does not stand as authority for imposing a sanction against the prosecution where the requested discovery material never existed in the first instance. Go to case.
Sufficiency of Evidence
Aggravated assault to an officer is reversed because there was no act that could have placed the deputy in fear of receiving a battery. People v. Taylor
Defendant is kicked out of bond court after she curses at deputies and otherwise makes a big stink. On her way out through glass doors she tells the deputy, “I’m going to kick your ass.” This Evidence was insufficient to prove an assault because there was no evidence that of the performance of any physical act or gesture that might have placed the deputy in reasonable apprehension of an imminent battery. Words alone are insufficient to constitute an assault and some physical act or gesture was required to prove that charge. Go to case.
Reckless conduct conviction is reversed where state failed to prove that Defendant threw a brick or did anything that caused bodily harm or endangerment. People v. Gonzalez
Defendant was accused of throwing breaks while yelling gang slogans to passing cars. Police testified that “the defendants” and “they” were seen throwing bricks, but no one said this Defendant had any bricks. Where multiple defendants are tried simultaneously, the prosecution is not relieved of its burden of making a record that clearly establishes the alleged offending conduct of each individual defendant is proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The appellate court also noted that their review of the record showed that the State failed to present any evidence that anyone’s safety was endangered as a result of “the defendants’” alleged actions. There was no testimony that the bricks struck any cars or pedestrians or that they were directed at any person. Go to case.
Possession With Intent to Deliver and UUW Felon for possessing ammunition convictions were reversed because state did not establish constructive possession. People v. Maldonado
A search warrant was executed in home when no one was there. Contraband was discovered in what appeared to be a woman’s bedroom. Some mail addressed to defendant was recovered. The State did not present any direct evidence establishing defendant’s control over the premises. Nor, was the mail sufficient to draw an inference that defendant controlled the premises. The State did not present any evidence, direct or circumstantial, that defendant had knowledge of the contraband found therein. There is no evidence of the defendant and the contraband being in such proximity that an inference of defendant’s knowledge of the contraband could be established. Go to case.
18 year-old defendant was properly convicted of first degree murder when her 2 month old premature baby died of in part due to malnutrition and dehydration. People v. Pollard
According to the forensic pathologist, the baby was starving—he had no fat stores and his muscle tissue had atrophied. The malnutrition was chronic and was dehydrated to the point where his blood had become sludge-like. Both the failure to provide adequate nutrition and hydration and the failure to provide medical care by reason of defendant ignoring the heart and apnea monitor alarms, caused the trial court to find that defendant was guilty of first degree murder because there was a high probability that death or great bodily harm would result to a premature infant. The distinction between reckless and knowing conduct is based upon the level of certainty that death or great bodily harm would result. The reviewing court found that because defendant was told at the hospital that the baby had to be fed every three hours and that the heart and apnea monitor was not to be turned off unless baby was getting a bath, the evidence was sufficient to establish that defendant acted with “knowledge” that her acts created a strong probability of death or great bodily harm. Go to case.
Officer seeing defendant throw a bag down containing cannabis was sufficient to prove possession. People v. Evans
Defendant denied living in the house. The search warrant was against someone else living in the house. Nonetheless, police say they say defendant dropped the bag and that was enough. Also, ruling on a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel for failing to file a motion to suppress is almost always inappropriate on direct appeal because the State was not given a chance to develop the facts for the issue at the trial level. Go to case.
Conviction for failure to report an accident is sustained because Defendant’s duty to report does not dissolve simply because the police investigation is revealing the information. People v. Moreno
A motorcycle hits defendant’s car and the rider dies. Defendant flees the accident. Defendant is quickly discovered and arrested as numerous witnesses assisted the investigation. Defendant denied knowing he was in an accident. Given the amount of damage to defendant’s car, and the fact that the accident occurred in broad daylight in the middle of a busy intersection, it was reasonable for the trial court to disbelieve defendant’s self-serving statement that he was not aware that he had been involved in a motor-vehicle accident. Defendant never acknowledge to the police during the investigation that he was involved in the accident, worse he was actively deceiving them. Go to case.
Felony murder sustained even though Defendant did not foresee that co-defendant would drive in an irrational and dangerous matter to escape; it was sufficient that he contemplated that, to avoid liability, his actions would require escape from the home without capture. People v. Brown
Defendant and a codefendant, who was at the wheel, committed a residential burglary then sped away from the police. Driver failed to stop at intersections. An accident occurred and the driver of the other car was killed. Illinois adheres to the “proximate cause” theory of liability for felony murder, meaning “liability attaches under the felony-murder rule for any death proximately resulting from the unlawful activity.” A felon is liable for those deaths which occur during a felony and which are the foreseeable consequence of his initial criminal acts. This includes a death that occurs during an escape following the commission of a forcible felony. Go to case.
Mandatory life sentence for murder of minor child has been struck down and not reenacted, therefore Defendant’s life sentence must be reversed. People v. Crutchfield
A mandatory term of natural life pursuant to section 5-8-1(a)(1)(c)(ii) of the Unified Code of Corrections purportedly requires a life sentence for the killing of child under 12. This was struck down as a single subject violation by the Illinois Supreme Court in People v. Wooters, 188 Ill. 2d 500, 722 N.E.2d 1102 (1999). Defendant killed a six year old by striking him in the abdomen. Go to case.
Trial counsel was ineffective for telling client he could receive IDOC credits he, in fact was not eligible to receive. People v. Kitchell
Counsel advised Defendant he would receive good-conduct credit for various educational, vocational, and drug rehabilitation classes. However, 730 ILCS 5/3-6-3 and the Illinois Administrative Code “Eligibility” (20 Ill. Adm. Code 107.520) prohibited such credit. Dismissal of postconviction petition was reversed. Defendant’s contention that counsel gave him wrong advice and he relied on that advice is sufficient under the Act to entitle him to an evidentiary hearing. See 730 ILCS 5/3-6-3(a)(4) (Way at the bottom of the first paragraph it says “or any inchoate offenses”) Go to case.
Seven year sentence for felony DWLR is sustained. People v. Che Blair
A Class 3 felony normally carries a sentencing range of 2 to 5 years; however, due to defendant’s criminal history, he was eligible for an extended-term sentence ranging from 5 to 10 years. He had 17 prior DWLS/R. No abuse in discretion where trial court noted he had been given plenty of “breaks” in the past. Also, Defendant’s prior revocation did not render his subsequent statutory summary suspension a nullity for purposes of the enhanced driving while license suspended or revoked charges. Go to case.
Minor challenged his HJO and VJO findings and JIDOC commitment until his 21 first birthday on the basis that one of the prior violent adjudications was predicated on an improper guilty plea. In re Isaiah D.
Adhering to the Illinois Supreme Court’s holding in In re J.T., 221 Ill. 2d 338 (2006) this appellate court concluded that respondent’s failure to appeal from his guilty plea and corresponding sentence in a timely manner deprived it of jurisdiction to consider that conviction within the context of his appeal from the 2014 conviction. The juvenile’s failure to file a timely notice of appeal deprived the appellate court of “jurisdiction to consider any issues arising from either his guilty plea or his sentence. Additionally, the vast body of Eighth Amendment and Proportionate Penalties jurisprudence in juvenile delinquency cases is persuasive with respect to the constitutionality of both the HJO and VJO statutory provisions. Thus, respondent’s constitutional challenges are unavailing. Go to case.
Minor sentenced to 45 years in prison for murder challenged the constitutionality of the automatic transfer statute and the gun add-on; this challenge was denied. People v. Banks
This Fifth District panel had no problem shooting down Defendant’s constitutional challenge. They cited People v. Patterson, 2014 IL 115102, in denying the eighth amendment challenge. The challenge under the Illinois proportionate penalties clause ((Ill. Const. 1970, art. I, § 11) was easily dismissed. The panel declined to extend their holding to the circumstances of this case. It said the trial court had an opportunity to use discretion in sentencing defendant. Go to case.
Fourth District of the First Appellate Circuit upholds automatic transfer provision against young defendant and declares the provision constitutional. People v. Minter
16 year-old defendant was convicted of armed robbery, prosecuted as an adult, and received a 23 year sentence with a 15 year gun add-gun. This panel quite easily found that People v. Patterson, 2014 IL 115102 and People v. Blair, 2013 IL 114122 have settled this issue. Illinois Proportionate Penalties Clause ((Ill. Const. 1970, art. I, § 11) did not come to the rescue. In a 60 plus page opinion the constitutionality issue only covered a few pages. Go to case.
Prosecution’s reference to an eyewitness who did not testify was harmless error. People v. Risper
Cop arrests Defendant and codefendant after CTA employee says “those two were involved” in the attempted robbery and battery. CTA employee was never identified. State ordered to not use this hearsay to ID defendant. Yes, the prosecutor went where she shouldn’t and the police witnesses were not well prepared. But, the strength of the evidence against defendant and the curative effect of the jury admonishments convinced the court that defendant suffered no substantial prejudice. Go to case.
Contents of sexually suggestive text messages were properly excluded as irrelevant not necessarily as part of the rape shield law. People v. Saders
Trial judge allowed defendant to admit the fact that the victim was texting another man before the rape in a sexually suggestive manner. Defendant wanted to show she was not so drunk she couldn’t carry on a conversation about sex and give consent. Court said he could get into the fact that the communication occurred but not the contents of the messages. The disclosure of the content of the text messages was not required to show the victim’s “state of mind.” Willingness to engage in sexual conduct with another has absolutely no bearing on her willingness to engage in sexual conduct with defendant. Go to case.
Error to admit prior crime evidence of another stolen bike. People v. Clark
The trial court erred in admitting the other-crime evidence that defendant had previously stolen a bicycle in the same area as the theft in question. The prior theft did not prove his intent to commit theft or his identity in the instant case in a permissible way. Rather, it relied on an inference that defendant possessed a propensity to commit theft, which is prohibited under the rules of evidence. Conviction stands under harmless error. Go to case.
Trial counsel probably should have known what Defendant’s priors were, but the court did not commit error in waiting to respond to Defendant’s motion in limine to exclude his prior convictions under Montgomery. People v. Williams
Ordinarily, a trial court’s failure to rule on a motion in limine on the admissibility of prior convictions when it has sufficient information to make a ruling constitutes an abuse of discretion. Here, Defendant’s motion in limine makes no mention of the specific prior criminal convictions that he wished to bar the State from mentioning at trial. At the pretrial conference, where the court initially reviewed the motion, no Montgomery motion had been filed nor did either party attempt to inform the court of the prior convictions at issue in this case. The trial court simply did not have sufficient information before it to conduct the test enunciated in Montgomery at this point in the proceedings. Go to case.
It was not error to deny the Defendant the chance to admit evidence from a firearm expert that the sawed-off shotgun was not deadly from the distance it was fired. People v. Carlisle
Defendant was convicted of two counts of attempted murder for shooting a shotgun at two police officers. He wanted to show he had no intent to kill by introducing a gun expert who would say the gun was not deadly at the distance it was fired. However, the courts have consistently held that guns are per se deadly weapons. Here, an officer was shot in the face with pellets and could have been killed if the pellets struck him in a dangerous area, expert testimony is not needed to prove that which is obvious. Go to case.
It was harmless error to impeach Defendant with an AUUW conviction that was void under Aguilar. People v. Scott
Defendant was impeached in his murder trial with an aggravated unlawful use of a weapon conviction, a Class 4 felony, under the statute later ruled unconstitutional by the Illinois Supreme Court in People v. Aguilar, 2013 IL 112116. 720 ILCS 5/24-1.6(a)(1). The Illinois Supreme Court held that convictions obtained in violation of a constitutional right cannot be used for impeachment purposes. Go to case.
Improper admittance of a business record showing the first rape suspect was not a DNA match was harmless error. People v. Nixon
The victim had ID’ed one man in the beginning of the case. However, his DNA in the system did not match the rape kit. Defendant objected when the state admitted a DNA profile of this first suspect. The inference is that if the first suspect was in the system then it was not a match to the rape kit. However, a proper foundation was not laid. See Business record foundation under 725 ILCS 5/115-5 & Illinois Rule of Evidence 803(6). Additionally, in the case of computer-generated records, a proper foundation additionally requires a showing that standard equipment was used; the particular computer generates accurate records when used appropriately; the computer was used appropriately; and the sources of the information, the method of recording utilized, and the time of preparation indicate that the record is trustworthy and should be admitted into evidence. Foundation was improper here, but error was harmless. Go to case.
Case remanded for limited purposes of having trial court conduct the required preliminary investigation required by Krankel. People v. Washington
At sentencing, defendant tried to make an oral motion raising his attorney’s ineffectiveness. Trial judge told him he needed to make an oral motion. This was error. defendant’s oral statement during allocution was sufficient to bring to the trial court’s attention that defendant was attempting to raise an ineffective assistance claim. Go to case.
Residential burglary and aggravated battery convictions are sustained, but case is remanded for a better Krankel hearing after Defendant’s pro se allegation of ineffective assistance. People v. Robinson
In attempting to escape from a residential burglary, Defendant bit off the lower lip of the resident who caught him in his house. In a pro se motion defendant raised ineffective assistance of counsel for various reasons including bad cross examination and not investigating the case. Trial judge heard defendant’s complaints, asked defense counsel for explanations, and invited the state to respond. Per People v. Jolly, 2014 IL 117142, the trial court committed reversible error when it allowed the State to take an adversarial position against defendant. Additionally, it was error to sentence defendant to an extended term for the aggravated battery because 730 ILCS 5/5-8-2(a) only allows an extended term for the most serious offense. Go to case.
46 hour interrogation of 17 year-old defendant ruled voluntary, murder conviction upheld. People v. Macias
Defendant contended that this prior experience did not equip him “to survive a 46-hour marathon interrogation by seasoned law enforcement officers investigating a murder.” However, the reviewing court noted that he was alone in the room for significant lengths of time and permitted to sleep for hours uninterrupted. Defendant only stopped denying involvement when shown a video of his codefendant. The interrogation was aggressive but Defendant maintained his innocence through the worst of it. Go to case.
Defendant has been committed after a finding of not not guilty; no error in proceeding with his 180 and 90 day reviews without his presence. People v. Olsson
Defendant had refused to attend hearings since October 2011. Defendant takes for granted that section 104-16(c), which is part of a section entitled “Fitness Hearing” (725 ILCS 5/104-16), applied to the proceedings at issue. However, the hearing was not a hearing on the issue of fitness, section 104-16(c) did not apply. Go to case.
Previous acquittal of crimes against an innocent bystander will preclude subsequent charges of intentional and knowing murder against the bystander when he dies from complications, but felony murder may still be a viable charge. People v. Brown
In an original trial defendant was convicted of serious felonies for shooting at 3 individuals near an SUV. An innocent person sitting in another car and not connected to the shooting was hit in the neck. In the original trial, defendant was acquitted of all intentional charges against the bystander. 3 years later the bystander died from complications to his injuries. The state then tried defendant with felony murder predicated on the convictions against the SUV victims and also tried him for “knowing”, “unintentional” murder. Double jeopardy is not a bar to the later prosecution. Collateral estoppel would preclude any subsequent prosecution predicated on an intentional killing of the bystander. This is true because Defendant was acquitted of attempted murder of the bystander in the original trial. Thus, the issue of intentionally killing the bystander was previously litigated. The knowing murder conviction must also still be vacated because defendant was also acquitted of aggravated battery with a firearm and aggravated discharge of a firearm against the bystanders. These are “knowing” crimes, so the issue of “knowingly” killing the bystander was also previous litigated. Go to case.
Right to Counsel
Defendant waived his right to trial and was not “forced” to proceed pro se. People v. Trotter
Defendant kept wanting to submit his own pro se motion even though he was represented by the public defender. Defendant insisted on having his motions ruled on and agreed to proceed pro se so that his own motions would be considered by the court. His statements regarding self-representation were not “contradictory and ambiguous,” it is clear from the record that the court repeatedly informed defendant that it would not hear his pro se motions while he was represented by counsel. In response, defendant stated that he waived his right to counsel if it meant the court would hear his motions. Go to case.
Defendant’s postconviction petition gets to advance to the second stage because he made a colorable claim of ineffective assistance. People v. Romero
Defendant was acquitted of attempted murder of an officer. However, trial judge commented at sentencing that “defendant was a little worse shot than he thought he would have been.” Defendant argued that the circuit court relied on acquitted conduct in crafting his sentence, and both his trial and appellate counsel were ineffective for failing to properly raise this issue in prior proceedings. The circuit court’s comment demonstrates that it believed that, at the very least, defendant intended that the bullet would hit the officer, if not kill him. Defendant presented an arguable basis to support his argument that the circuit court considered an inappropriate factor in aggravation. Go to case.
Defendant’s postconviction petition is summarily dismissed because it does nothing to change the outcome of his murder conviction. People v. Walker
The crux of this actual innocence claim rests on notarized statements from a fellow inmate who claims to have witnesses the shooting. However, defendant’s defense at trial is that he had an alibi. This is not newly discovered evidence. Further, there is no explanation why it took the witness 27 years to come forward. Aside from attempting to undermine the State’s case, the evidence presented only presents information available at trial, particularly the alibi defense. Go to case.
It was proper to dismiss this 2-1401 petition before 30 days because defendant did not establish if he had properly served the State. People v. Saterfield
Additionally, the State was not deprived of the opportunity to respond. The record reveals that the State received actual notice of the petition in open court and requested a continuance “review the petition.” At the next court date the State did not object to the circuit court’s dismissal of the petition. This issue is currently before the Illinois Supreme Court in People v. Carter. Go to case.
State Appellate Defender is allowed to withdraw from defendant’s appeal. People v. Shotts
Defendant is serving 64 years for numerous sex convictions. He has filed 11 appeals and numerous postconviction petitions. He has also been denied leave to file a successive petition. Defendant’s own admission that he engaged in “consensual” sex with at least two minors, renders his claims absurd. Go to case.
State Appellate Defender is allowed to withdraw from defendant’s appeal. People v. Reeves
Defendant was convicted of consecutive sentences. IDOC did not give any credit for one offense, but applied all the credit to the first offense. No meritorious issues exist here. Defendant is not entitled to two days’ credit for each single day he was in simultaneous pre sentence custody. Go to case.