Supreme Court Summaries

Opinions filed March 21, 2013


People v. Cardona, 2013 IL 114076

Appellate citation: 2012 IL App (2d) 100542.


      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.


      In Lake County, this defendant was charged with indecent solicitation of a child and unlawful restraint based on an incident that occurred in 2007 concerning a girl who was walking home from school in Waukegan. Cardona has never been brought to trial on these charges. Instead, he was ruled unfit for trial and was transferred to the Elgin Mental Health Center for further evaluation and treatment.

      At an “innocence only” or “discharge” hearing provided for by statute, Cardona was acquitted of indecent solicitation, but not of unlawful restraint, as to which a finding of “not not guilty” was entered. (Later, before the supreme court, he no longer contested the sufficiency of the evidence to show that the latter offense was sexually motivated. A charge of this nature can be a statutory ground for requiring registration as a sex offender.)

      As Cardona’s term of extended treatments was coming to a close and Cardona was still unfit for trial, the State sought to have him certified as a sex offender on grounds that the charge of unlawful restraint of which he was not acquitted was sexually motivated. The circuit court agreed and ordered him to register as a sex offender under the Sex Offender Registration Act, or SORA.

      Cardona challenged the order to register as a sex offender, but the appellate court affirmed it. In the supreme court, he based his challenge only on procedural due process grounds, claiming that if he was unfit for trial, he was also unfit to defend himself against the attempt to force him to register as a sex offender. The supreme court said that this argument was more in the nature of a substantive due process challenge, but dealt with his argument in the manner in which Cardona had raised it, i.e., as a claim of denial of procedural due process.

      A charge of unlawful restraint that is sexually motivated falls squarely within the statutory definition of sex offender for purposes of requiring registration.

      Although due process bars the criminal prosecution of a defendant who is not competent to stand trial, the registration proceedings which have taken place here are not criminal, and requiring registration is not punishment. The registration is a regulatory scheme. In addition, Cardona could point to no procedural inadequacy in these proceedings, at which he was represented by appointed counsel and also had an interpreter.

      The supreme court thus rejected the defendant’s argument hat, because he is unfit for trial and has not been convicted of a criminal offense, he cannot be required to register as a sex offender. The appellate court’s affirmance of the circuit court’s order was upheld.