Supreme Court Summaries
Opinions filed September 19, 2013
In re Shelby R., 2013 IL 114994
Appellate citation: 2012 IL App (4th) 110191.
JUSTICE THEIS delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.
Chief Justice Kilbride and Justices Freeman, Thomas, Garman, Karmeier, and Burke concurred in the judgment and opinion.
In this Champaign County juvenile matter, the 14-year-old in question was the subject of a 2009 petition to have her adjudicated delinquent based on unlawful consumption of alcohol and on other offenses. In 2010, she pled guilty to the misdemeanor of unlawful consumption of alcohol in exchange for the dismissal of those other charges, and she was sentenced to 18 months of probation, on the condition of refraining from consumption of alcohol or illegal drugs. Later that same year, the State filed a petition to revoke her probation, claiming that drug testing revealed that she had consumed marijuana and cocaine. Her probation was revoked, and she was conveyed to the Department of Juvenile Justice’s facility in Warrenville for an indeterminate term of 364 days, with a credit for time served. That sentence has been served.
The issue in this appeal is whether statute permits a minor to be committed to the Department of Juvenile Justice after being adjudicated delinquent for unlawful consumption of alcohol, being placed on probation with conditions, and then having that probation revoked for violation of those probation conditions. Because the sentence here has been served, this question could be considered moot, but both the appellate and supreme courts addressed it under the public interest exception to the mootness doctrine.
Sentencing in delinquent minor proceedings is governed by the Juvenile Court Act. The supreme court ruled that the sentence here is not permitted by it. The authority to sentence for underage drinking is limited by the Juvenile Court Act provision stating that a minor may be committed to the Department of Juvenile Justice “only if a term of incarceration is permitted by law for adults found guilty of the offense for which the minor was adjudicated delinquent.” Underage drinking is not an offense of which an adult may be guilty.
Although the State also argued that this juvenile could be incarcerated for having “violated a court order” when she did not comply with the terms of her probation, the supreme court rejected this view. It said that the “legislature could have reasonably concluded that enlarging the circumstances under which a minor could be sentenced to incarceration is antithetical to the statutory policy of promoting the development and implementation of community-based programs to prevent delinquent behavior.”
The appellate court’s reversal of the circuit court’s judgment was affirmed.