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People v. Morguez

OPINION FILED NOVEMBER 12, 1980.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

NICHOLAS MORGUEZ, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. ROBERT J. SULSKI, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE STAMOS DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Defendant, Nicholas Morguez, was indicted on four charges of burglary and one of attempted burglary. He pleaded guilty to all charges and received a sentence of three years' imprisonment. The sole issue on appeal is whether the trial court erred in ruling defendant ineligible to be treated under the Dangerous Drug Abuse Act. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 91 1/2, pars. 120.1-120.29.

Prior to trial defendant filed a petition with the trial court electing to be treated as a narcotics addict under section 8 (persons convicted of a crime) of the Dangerous Drug Abuse Act (the Act). (See Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 91 1/2, par. 120.8.) Acting on the petition, the trial court ordered defendant examined by T.A.S.C. (Treatment Alternatives to Street Crime). T.A.S.C. then filed a report stating that defendant had been accepted for the outpatient methadone treatment program at Hines V.A. Hospital. Subsequently, the court heard extensive arguments from counsel on defendant's eligibility to be treated under the Act. The statutory provision in question, section 8, provides in relevant part:

"An addict charged with or convicted of a crime is eligible to elect treatment under the supervision of a licensed program designated by the Commission instead of prosecution or probation, as the case may be unless * * * (d) other criminal proceedings alleging commission of a felony are pending against the addict." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 91 1/2, par. 120.8.

The State argued that because more than one unrelated felony was pending against defendant at the same time, he was ineligible for treatment under the Act. Defendant contended that this provision excluded only those charged with a felony which was still pending prosecution or disposition at the time of sentencing. He further maintained that in his case all charges would be resolved as to guilt or innocence prior to sentencing because all five charges were before the same court, and accordingly, there would be no pending felony charge at the time the trial judge considered his eligibility under the Act.

The trial court found defendant ineligible for treatment under the Act because it construed the five felony charges to be pending as contemplated by the Act. The trial court stated:

"The Court: Cases decided before the Appellate Court, cases saying that he is an ineligible person with felony cases pending, one Appellate Court saying that he is eligible.

I am going to make a finding that he is ineligible. There was only one that said he was eligible.

Mr. Decker [defense counsel]: Would the ruling be about the same if the defendant entered into a voluntary plea in regard to all five cases that he has here and just proceed to the sentencing hearing?

The Court: It would be the same ruling."

At a later hearing defendant pleaded guilty to all five charges and, pursuant to a prior negotiated plea agreement, the prosecutor recommended a term of three years, flat time. The trial court addressed defendant separately on each charge and admonished him of the nature and consequences of his guilty plea. The State then presented a summary of the evidence which would support a finding of defendant's guilt and which would sustain the State's burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. The defendant stipulated to the summary and to his admissions concerning the charged crimes.

Following the acceptance of the pleas and prior to sentencing on the charges, defendant renewed his petition to be treated under the Act. Instead, the trial court sentenced defendant to three years' imprisonment. After sentencing, defendant asked the trial court to reconsider its sentencing and to allow defendant to receive treatment under the Act. As at the original hearing on the petition, the trial court stated its belief that defendant was ineligible under the explicit provisions of the Act which barred those with pending felonies. The trial court then commented:

"I would be the first to admit I was a little bit in a quandary as to what the law was. I ruled after giving it a lot of ...


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