Supreme Court Summaries

Opinions filed April 4, 2013



People v. Hunter, 2013 IL 114100

Appellate citation: 2012 IL App (1st) 92681.


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

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


      This Cook County defendant was arrested in October of 2008 when Chicago police observed him standing in the doorway of an apartment building. A codefendant who was seen standing on the sidewalk twice accepted money from a passerby and then nodded to the defendant, who then retrieved an item from the vestibule and handed it to this person. Police arrested the defendant and recovered, from the vestibule, cannabis and handguns.

      Hunter appeared in the circuit court of Cook County on October 6, 2008, charged with possession of cannabis. Bail was set, he was released, and he filed a written demand for trial. Continuances on this charge were granted.

      On March 23, 2009, 175 days after the speedy-trial demand, the defendant was indicted as an armed habitual criminal and also on four counts of unlawful use of a weapon by a felon. Hunter complained about these five new charges. He claimed that the gun-related offenses had been known of when he was originally charged, were subject to the compulsory joinder statute, and should have been combined with the first cannabis charge. He also complained that the speedy-trial statute was violated since he had not been brought to trial on the new charges within 160 days of his original trial demand. A motion to dismiss the five new charges was granted and the appellate court affirmed, viewing the original cannabis charge and the five new gun charges as based on a single act of simultaneous constructive possession of the cannabis and the handguns. In this decision, the supreme court agreed with the appellate court, holding that the compulsory joinder statute requires that offenses based on the same act and known of by the prosecution must be prosecuted together. Thus, charges of simultaneous possession of different types of contraband (cannabis, guns) are subject to compulsory joinder if based on the same act, and, here, are subject to the speedy-trial period of the original charge. The State could have avoided this outcome by charging all of the offenses together.

      In dismissing the new charges, the circuit court had given an example of a warrant-based search which yields contraband in the form of stolen goods, counterfeit money, drugs and weapons. The circuit court had rejected the State’s elements-based view that these offenses could all be charged separately, as did the supreme court in this decision.

      Because Hunter committed the same physical act of simultaneously possessing cannabis and handguns, the State was required by the compulsory joinder statute to bring the charges for all of these offenses in a single prosecution. Because the parties agreed that the speedy-trial period was 160 days beginning on October 6, 2008, dismissal of the charges brought beyond this period was proper.

      The original drug charge remains undisturbed, and the cause was to be remanded to the circuit court for further proceedings.