Supreme Court Summaries

Opinions filed April 4, 2013


People v. Fitzpatrick, 2013 IL 113449

Appellate citation: 2011 IL App (2d) 100463.


      JUSTICE THOMAS delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

      Chief Justice Kilbride and Justices Freeman, Garman, Karmeier, Burke, and Theis concurred in the judgment and opinion.


      This criminal appeal arises from the denial of a motion to suppress. Defendant Fitzpatrick was stopped by a Zion police officer for walking down the middle of a street, a petty offense which violates the Illinois Vehicle Code and which was also contrary to municipal ordinance. After a brief pat-down search, Fitzpatrick was placed under arrest and, at the police station, was searched for contraband. Cocaine was found in his sock.

      Defendant was charged with possessing fewer than 15 grams of cocaine. He moved to suppress this evidence on a theory that a full custodial arrest for a petty offense violates the search and seizure clause of the Illinois Constitution. The motion to suppress was denied by the circuit court of Lake County and the appellate court affirmed. In this decision, the appellate court’s judgment was affirmed by the Illinois Supreme Court.

      The defendant conceded that this issue has already been settled under the fourth amendment of the Constitution of the United States. However, he argued that the Illinois Constitution can be interpreted more broadly, and that an exception to the usual approach of following the United States Constitution should apply.

      In this decision, the Illinois Supreme Court rejected this argument, noting that Fitzpatrick failed to meet his burden of establishing his claim that there is any long-standing Illinois tradition prohibiting arrests for petty offenses. The same meaning should be given to article I, section 6, of the Illinois Constitution as has been given to the fourth amendment of the United States Constitution.

      The trial court did not err in denying the motion to suppress.