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People v. Lawlor

ORIGINAL OPINION FILED NOVEMBER 9, 1981.

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

v.

JOHN LAWLOR, JR., DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Du Page County; the Hon. BRUCE A. FAWELL, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE LINDBERG DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied December 22, 1981.

This is an appeal by the State from an order of the Circuit Court of Du Page County suppressing evidence which would otherwise have been presented by the State at the trial of defendant, John Lawlor, Jr. We reverse and remand.

Defendant was arrested on February 14, 1980, and charged by information on May 20, 1980, with the offenses of unlawful possession of a controlled substance (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 56 1/2, par. 1402(b)), unlawful possession and use of a driver's license (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 95 1/2, par. 6-301), and possession of firearm ammunition without the requisite firearm owner's identification card. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 38, par. 83-2.

A hearing was held on the defendant's motion to quash the arrest and suppress the evidence on August 12, 1980. Defendant and the State first argue the issue of whether the police officers properly arrested defendant based on an outstanding warrant for his arrest. Evidence regarding the progress of the previous charges against defendant was sparse but essentially both sides agreed on the facts.

Defendant was released on his own recognizance on March 10, 1979, after being charged with possession of cannabis and a controlled substance (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 56 1/2, pars. 704(b) and 1402(b)). Defendant was scheduled to appear in specified courtrooms on April 2, 1979, pursuant to the terms of his bail. One charge was a felony and was assigned to one courtroom and the other charge was the misdemeanor and was assigned to a different courtroom. Defendant and his counsel appeared on the felony charge in the courtroom designated for the felony but did not appear on the misdemeanor charge in the other courtroom which was specified in his bail. Counsel for both sides apparently had been of the opinion that both the felony and misdemeanor charges were proceeding together in the same courtroom.

However, when the defendant failed to appear in the designated courtroom for the misdemeanor on April 2, 1979, the judge in that courtroom entered an order forfeiting defendant's bond and on May 9, 1979, an arrest warrant was issued for the defendant pursuant to section 110-3 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 38, par. 110-3). The warrant stated that it was to be executed before February 15, 1980.

This warrant served as the basis for the arrest of the defendant February 14, 1980. The officers searched the defendant incident to that arrest. The search produced alleged controlled substances and firearm ammunition on defendant's person. Defendant was charged with possession of the contraband, which was subsequently suppressed by the trial court below because the arrest warrant pursuant to the bond forfeiture was deemed void when executed by the trial court. The State argues that the warrant was validly issued but also contends that if the warrant were found to be invalid "in a technical sense" then the officers' reasonable and justified good faith belief that the warrant was valid is sufficient to uphold the arrest. The State also argues, in the alternative, that there exists an independent basis to support defendant's arrest and the resulting search so that there was probable cause to make a warrantless arrest.

Defendant argues that the warrant was issued to compel defendant's appearance on the misdemeanor charge to which he subsequently pleaded guilty and served a probationary sentence. Defendant contends the warrant was thereby invalidated by the time of its execution. Defendant concludes that the February 14, 1980, arrest was made pursuant to this invalid arrest warrant and the subsequent search was therefore invalid.

Defendant maintains that a police officer may be justified in making an arrest on what appears to be a valid warrant, but when the warrant is subsequently found to be invalid the arrest will be deemed to be illegal. Defendant relies upon Whiteley v. Warden (1971), 401 U.S. 560, 28 L.Ed.2d 306, 91 S.Ct. 1031, and People v. Decuir (1980), 84 Ill. App.3d 531, 405 N.E.2d 891. Since the trial court in the instant case focused exclusively on the validity of the warrant, holding that it was void when executed, the validity of the warrant is the pivotal issue in the case at bar. We find it unnecessary to discuss the State's arguments concerning the officers' reasonable good faith in the validity of the warrant or the existence of independent probable cause.

We conclude that defendant was validly searched on February 14, 1980, when taken into custody for the outstanding arrest warrant issued May 9, 1979. The warrant was neither invalidity issued nor was it invalid when executed. We note that on its face the warrant did not expire until the next day, February 15, 1980, nor is it contended otherwise by defendant.

Our conclusion is based upon the fact that defendant violated the bail provisions of the Illinois statutes and the courts> and police followed proper procedure in responding to that violation. Defendant was initially arrested for the cannabis violation, admitted to $1,000 bail and released on his own recognizance on March 10, 1979, pursuant to section 110-2 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 38, par. 110-2) which provides:

"When from all the circumstances the court is of the opinion that the accused will appear as required either before or after conviction the accused may be released on his own recognizance." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 38, par. 110-2.

One of the conditions of defendant's bail was that he appear in a certain courtroom to answer the cannabis charge April 2, 1979. He failed to appear thus ...


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