Supreme Court Summaries
Opinions filed March 20, 2014
People v. Easley 2014 IL 115581
Appellate citation: 2012 IL App (1st) 110023
JUSTICE KILBRIDE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.
Chief Justice Garman and Justices Freeman, Thomas, Karmeier, Burke, and Theis concurred in the judgment and opinion.
In 2008, an incident occurred on the south side of Chicago in which six shots were fired. This defendant, who was arrested as he ran from the scene, was found to have in his pocket a handgun with six spent shell casings inside. He already had a prior conviction for unlawful use of a weapon by a felon. After bench proceedings in the circuit court of Cook County, he was sentenced to nine years in prison for the Class 2 offense of unlawful use of a weapon by a felon.
On direct review, the appellate court affirmed his conviction. What is at issue here is the nature of the sentence, which the defendant had challenged in two respects, claiming both of an improper double enhancement and of the State’s failure to notify him, as he said was required by statute, that he could be sentenced as a Class 2 offender. The appellate court rejected the double enhancement claim, as the Illinois Supreme Court also did in this decision. However, the appellate court was of the view that the prosecution had failed to meet its statutory obligation to notify the defendant of its intention to seek an “enhanced” term, and it remanded for imposition of a lesser Class 3 sentence. On this point, the appellate court was reversed.
The indictment in this case alleged that the defendant was guilty of unlawful use of a weapon by a felon in that he was previously convicted of unlawful use of a weapon by a felon. The State had a certified copy of that earlier conviction. The Code of Criminal Procedure specifies that a first conviction for unlawful use of a weapon by a felon is a Class 3 felony and that a second or subsequent such offense is a Class 2 felony.
The supreme court said here that the statutory notice requirement applies only when the prior conviction is not already an element of the offense, which is not the case here. The prior conviction was an element of the offense and the indictment so stated. There was no “enhancement” because the Class 2 sentence imposed was the only one allowed pursuant to the statute under which the defendant was convicted.
The circuit court’s judgment was affirmed.