People v. Fort, 2017 IL 118966 (February). Episode 308 (Duration 9:57)
Illinois Supreme Court says State must charge second degree murder if they want to continue with adult sentencing after they lose a first degree murder count.
At issue in this appeal is whether a minor who is tried in adult court under the “automatic transfer” provision of the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 (Act) (705 ILCS 405/5-130) but is later not convicted of the charges which brought him into adult court is subject to mandatory adult sentencing under the Act.
Because defendant was charged with first degree murder, an offense specified in section 5-130 of the Act (705 ILCS 405/5-130(1)(a)), also known as the “automatic transfer” statute, defendant was tried as an adult. 705 ILCS 405/5-130(1)(b)(ii).
Defendant was 16 when he shot at a group of people.
He said he thought the victim had a gun and was going to shoot him.
The trial court reduced the offense of first degree murder to second degree murder based on the mitigating factor of an unreasonable belief in self-defense. The court entered judgment on a conviction of second degree murder (720 ILCS 5/9-2(a)(2).
No Motion Filed
Although defendant was a minor, the State never filed a written motion requesting that defendant be sentenced as an adult pursuant to section 5-130(1)(c)(ii) of the Act (705 ILCS 405/5-130(1)(c)(ii). Instead, the trial court and the parties proceeded directly to a sentencing hearing under the Unified Code of Corrections (730 ILCS 5/1-1-1 et seq.) pursuant to section 5-130(1)(c)(i) of the Act.
Defendant was sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment.
Automatic Transfer Section
The automatic transfer provision in section 5-130 of the Act is an exception to the juvenile court’s exclusive jurisdiction over minors charged with a crime. 705 ILCS 405/5-130.
At the time of defendant’s offense, the automatic transfer statute provided, in pertinent part:
“§ 5-130. Excluded jurisdiction. (1)(a) The definition of delinquent minor under Section 5-120 of this Article shall not apply to any minor who at the time of an offense was at least 15 years of age and who is charged with:
(i) first degree murder,
(ii) aggravated criminal sexual assault,
(iii) aggravated battery with a firearm where the minor personally discharged a firearm as defined in Section 2-15.5 of the Criminal Code of 1961,
(iv) armed robbery when the armed robbery was committed with a firearm, or
(v) aggravated vehicular hijacking when the hijacking was committed with a firearm.
These charges and all other charges arising out of the same incident shall be prosecuted under the criminal laws of this State…
(c)(i) If after trial or plea the minor is convicted of any offense covered by paragraph (a) of this subsection (1), then, in sentencing the minor, the court shall sentence the minor under Section 5-4.5-105 of the Unified Code of Corrections. (ii) If after trial or plea the court finds that the minor committed an offense not covered by paragraph (a) of this subsection (1), that finding shall not invalidate the verdict or the prosecution of the minor under the criminal laws of the State; however, unless the State requests a hearing for the purpose of sentencing the minor under Chapter V of the Unified Code of Corrections, the Court must proceed under Sections 5-705 and 5-710 of this Article.
To request a hearing, the State must file a written motion within 10 days following the entry of a finding or the return of a verdict. Reasonable notice of the motion shall be given to the minor or his or her counsel. If the motion is made by the State, the court shall conduct a hearing to determine if the minor should be sentenced under Chapter V of the Unified Code of Corrections.
In making its determination, the court shall consider among other matters:
(a) whether there is evidence that the offense was committed in an aggressive and premeditated manner;
(b) the age of the minor;
(c) the previous history of the minor;
(d) whether there are facilities particularly available to the Juvenile Court or the Department of Juvenile Justice for the treatment and rehabilitation of the minor;
(e) whether the security of the public requires sentencing under Chapter V of the Unified Code of Corrections; and
(f) whether the minor possessed a deadly weapon when committing the offense.
The rules of evidence shall be the same as if at trial. If after the hearing the court finds that the minor should be sentenced under Chapter V of the Unified Code of Corrections, then the court shall sentence the minor accordingly having available to it any or all dispositions so prescribed.”
Defendant argued that his conviction for second degree murder was “not covered by” section 5-130(1)(a) because second degree murder was not a “charge[ ] arising out of the same incident” as the first degree murder charges. 705 ILCS 405/5-130(1)(a), (1)(c)(i) (West 2008). Therefore, defendant argues, he should have been sentenced as a juvenile pursuant to section 5-130(1)(c)(ii) unless the State specifically requested a hearing to sentence him as an adult. 705 ILCS 405/5-130(1)(c)(ii).
The Illinois Supreme Court agreed with defendant that his adult sentence was imposed in violation of the statute, based on the fact that he was convicted of second degree murder, an uncharged non-automatic transfer offense, and not convicted of all first degree murder charges.
The statutory language clearly requires that a minor be tried in adult court if he is charged with one of the offenses listed in section 5-130(1)(a) of the statute. Moreover, a minor is properly tried in adult court on all of the charged offenses “arising out of the same incident,” even if some of those charges are not listed in section 5-130(1)(a).
This procedure obviously benefits the State and the court system by avoiding separate trials in criminal court and juvenile court for the same incident.
Lose The Transfer Count
However, the same logic does not apply to sentencing when a defendant is not convicted of the charges that brought him into adult court and ultimately convicted of a less serious, uncharged offense.
The plain language in section 5-130(1)(c)(ii) evinces the legislative intent that when a minor is convicted only of an uncharged, non-automatic transfer offense, the court must proceed under the Juvenile Court Act for sentencing unless the State moves for adult sentencing and that request is granted. Mandatory adult sentencing under section 5-130(1)(c)(i) only applies when a minor is convicted of an offense “covered by” section 5-130(1)(a). 705 ILCS 405/5-130(1)(c)(i).
Motion Not Required if Actually Charged With Other Offenses
Section 5-130(1)(a) lists four specific charges and provides that “[t]hese charges and all other charges arising out of the same incident shall be prosecuted under the criminal laws of this State.” 705 ILCS 405/5-130(1)(a). Thus, in order for a conviction to be “covered by” section 5-130(1)(a), it must be for a charged offense, whether one of the enumerated charges or a separate charge arising out of one of the enumerated charges.
This court has recognized that the framework of the Act turns on the offenses in the charging instrument.
Thus, it is the charging instrument that determines whether the minor has the right to have the proceedings in juvenile court.
Wasn’t Charged With Second Degree Murder
In this case, defendant was charged and tried for first degree murder but was not charged with second degree murder. Second degree murder is a separate offense from first degree murder. 720 ILCS 5/9-1, 9-2. The State chose to proceed to trial on only the first degree murder charges.
Therefore, the offense of second degree murder did not qualify as an “other charge[ ] arising out of the same incident” as the charged offenses. 705 ILCS 405/5-130(1)(a).
Under the plain language of the statute, defendant’s conviction on an uncharged offense was not “covered by” section 5-130(1)(a). 705 ILCS 405/5-130(1)(a), (1)(c).
Thus, sentencing should have proceeded under section 5-130(1)(c)(ii) rather than section 5-130(1)(c)(i). In the absence of a request by the State for adult sentencing, defendant’s adult sentence is contrary to the express statutory language and must be vacated. See 705 ILCS 405/5-130(1)(c)(ii).
The State argues that defendant was not “acquitted” of first degree murder because second degree murder is considered a “lesser mitigated offense” of first degree murder. See Episode 260.
In convicting defendant, the trial court found that the State had proved all of the necessary elements for first degree murder but the evidence supported a mitigating factor, which reduced the crime to second degree murder.
According to the State, then, defendant’s second degree murder conviction was “covered by” section 5-130(1)(a) because it arose out of the same incident as the proven first degree murder charge. See 705 ILCS 405/5-130(1)(a), (1)(c)(i). The high court said this argument as both factually and legally incorrect.
But here the conviction in the books is for second degree murder not first degree murder. For the foregoing reasons, the judgments of the lower courts are reversed. The cause is remanded to the trial court with directions to vacate defendant’s sentence and allow the State to file a petition requesting a hearing pursuant to section 5-130(1)(c)(ii) of the Juvenile Court Act. 705 ILCS 405/5-130(1)(c)(ii).
In accord with the timeline provided in the statute, the State must file its motion within 10 days of the date the trial court vacates defendant’s sentence.
The dissent stressed that second degree murder is not a separate crime from first degree murder. It is not an “alternative to first degree murder.” It is not a lesser-included offense of first degree murder. Rather, it is a mitigated form of the same crime.
Second Degree is Part of First Degree
Correspondingly, a charge of second degree murder is incorporated into every charge of first degree murder. The elements of the two offenses are the same. The only thing that distinguishes them is that for a defendant to be convicted of second degree murder, he or she must have met the burden of establishing a mitigating factor after the State has proven the charge of first degree murder beyond a reasonable doubt.
The first degree murder charge were not rejected; rather, the trier of fact found that the State successfully proved the charge of first degree murder but also found that defendant proved the existence of a mitigating factor.
Because the charge of first degree murder was sufficient to trigger the automatic transfer provision of section 5-130 and because the charge for which defendant was ultimately found guilty—second degree murder—was merely a variant of that same qualifying offense and not a different or lesser-included offense, it therefore cannot be said that the defendant here was convicted of an offense for which he had not been charged.
To the contrary, he quite clearly was.
Defendant was found guilty of second degree murder, and the State had leveled a charge of second degree murder against him when it charged him with first degree murder. The trial court was therefore entirely correct when it sentenced defendant as an adult.
Silly To Require State To Charge Second Degree
Under the majority’s view, in order to avoid the issue here, the State would have been required to expressly and simultaneously charge first degree murder and second degree murder. In sum, a charge of second degree murder is incorporated in every charge of first degree murder. Defendant was thus convicted of a charged offense arising out of section 5-130 of the Act and was properly sentenced under the Unified Code of Corrections.
People v. Ingram, 2018 IL App (4th) 160099 (July). (minor plead to the lesser charge)
Episode 260 – People v. Staake, 2016 IL App (4th) 140638 (November) (Originally Charged With Second Degree Murder, Then Amended To First Degree Murder, Problem?)