People v. Shinaul, 2017 IL 120162 (February). Episode 311 (Duration 4:52)
State is not allowed to reinstate charges after Defendant vacates an invalidated Aguilar AUUW conviction.
This case looks at whether or not the State will be allowed to reinstate dismissed charges after a defendant files a civil petition to vacate an invalidated Aguilar AUUW conviction.
In this case, the issues before the circuit court were limited to whether the AUUW count to which defendant had pled guilty should be vacated, whether he should be allowed to withdraw his negotiated guilty plea, and whether the State should be allowed to reinstate the counts it had nol-prossed as part of that negotiated plea agreement.
A civil remedy that extends to criminal cases, section 2-1401 of the Code of Civil Procedure outlines a comprehensive, statutory procedure by which final orders and judgments may be vacated by the circuit court more than 30 days following their entry.
A section 2-1401 proceeding is a new and separate cause of action that is subject to the usual rules of civil procedure.
In this case, defendant attacked his conviction under the plea agreement because the offense to which he pled guilty was declared unconstitutional and void ab initio by this court in Aguilar.
It is undisputed that defendant’s section 2-1401 petition correctly asserted that his conviction as part of the negotiated plea should be vacated in light of this court’s decision in People v. Aguilar, 2013 IL 112116.
Further, the State properly filed its motion to reinstate the prior nol-prossed charges by proceeding under this court’s alternative method of reinstating once nol-prossed charges. See People v. Hughes, 2012 IL 112817, ¶¶ 24-25 (identifying two mechanisms by which the State can reinstate once nol-prossed charges: the State may file a new information or indictment, or the State can alternatively move to vacate the nolle prosequi and reinstate the original charges).
Defendant May Vacate
In light of Aguilar’s holding, defendant correctly notes that he essentially pled guilty to something that was never a crime.
To receive relief from his void conviction, defendant properly understood that the only way to vacate a conviction after a judgment has been entered on a guilty plea is to hold that the plea was defective and that his conviction should be vacated through the filing of a section 2-1401 petition. See Episode 187 – People v. McFadden, 2016 IL 117424, ¶¶ 20, 31-32.
When a circuit court vacates and sets aside a judgment, as it has done here, the prior judgment is eliminated, and the case thereby returns to its status before the judgment was made.
Original Position Before The Plea
In many circumstances, this will leave a case in a procedural posture such that it requires further proceedings.
For the reasons stated below, however, the facts of this case prevent reinstatement of the nol-prossed charges.
Statute of Limitations
The criminal statute of limitations serves two primary purposes: to avoid the use of stale evidence and to provide an incentive for swift governmental action in criminal cases.
Limitations are designed to protect individuals from having to defend themselves against charges when the basic facts may have become obscured by the passage of time and to minimize the danger of official punishment because of acts in the far-distant past.
The high court said there is no provision in the Code that permits the tolling of the statute of limitations in the circumstances before this court.
While the statute of limitations may benefit some wrongdoers it declined to create a prophylactic rule or read into the statute of limitations a nonexistent exception in order to benefit the State.
To do so would be precisely contrary to the central purpose of the statute of limitations and inconsistent with this court’s general principles of statutory interpretation.
The court held that the statute of limitations serves as an absolute bar to the State’s motion to reinstate the charges it nol-prossed.
So defendants can use the 2-1401 petition to vacate these Aguilar gun convictions, and the State may not be put back in it’s original position before the plea.