People v. Rizzo, 2016 IL 118599 (June). Episode 183 (Duration 8:23)
Is it unconstitutional to prohibit court supervision for a strict liability traffic offense?
No way man, says the Illinois Supreme Court.
Defendant was charged with violating section 11-601.5(b) of the Vehicle Code (625 ILCS 5/11-601.5(b) (driving 40 miles per hour or more in excess of the speed limit- a Class A misdemeanor) He was doing 100 in a 55 zone.
The trial court concluded that prohibiting court supervision for this crime was “cruel and degrading punishment” and therefore unconstitutional. The Illinois Supreme Court saw it differently. The high court found the trial court’s opinion and order to be an ambiguous analysis and had ill-defined concerns en route to its conclusion that section 730 ILCS 5/5-6-1(p) is unconstitutional.
A proportionate penalties challenge can be made if a defendant can argue that the “penalty for a particular offense is too severe under the ‘cruel or degrading’ standard or that the penalty is harsher than the penalty for a different offense that contains identical elements.”
It appears a major reason the trial court found for the defendant was because of its concern for the collateral consequences of conviction…and maybe didn’t like that the statute was tieing the court’s hands.
Illinois High Court
The trial court completely disagreed, writing:
“In our view, the legislature’s prohibition of the dispositional option of supervision, in this context, does not even approach the “cruel and degrading” standard requisite for a finding of unconstitutionality. We do not believe our society has devolved to the permissive point that the legislature is obligated to provide an escape hatch for those who have shown such a blatant disregard for posted speed restrictions. We have, in the context of our community’s evolving standards of decency, reviewed and considered the gravity of defendant’s alleged offense in connection with the severity of the statutorily mandated sentence then set by the legislature. Our consciences are not shocked by the prohibition, individually or collectively. It appears the circuit court reached its result through application of the proportionate penalty analysis this court rejected in Sharpe.”
The trial court also erred in in its improper consideration of possible collateral consequences of a misdemeanor conviction, such as a requirement of disclosure on job or loan applications. None of these consequences are considered punishments. Trial court was reversed.