Appeal from the Appellate Court for the First District; heard
in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County,
the Hon. Allan Lane, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE MORAN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
Defendant, Barbara Boykin, was charged by complaint with the misdemeanor offense of battery, in violation of section 12-3 of the Criminal Code of 1961 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 12-3). Following a bench trial in the circuit court of Cook County, she was found guilty and sentenced to six months' probation. She subsequently moved to reduce her sentence, requesting supervision in lieu of probation. The trial court ruled that defendant was not eligible for supervision under section 5-6-1(c) of the Unified Code of Corrections (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 1005-6-1(c)), because she neither pleaded guilty to the charge nor stipulated to the facts supporting the charge or the facts supporting a finding of guilt. The appellate court reversed, concluding that supervision may be imposed following a finding of guilt after trial. (109 Ill. App.3d 112.) We granted the State leave to appeal.
The sole issue for review is whether a defendant who has been found guilty of a misdemeanor offense following a trial is eligible for supervision under section 5-6-1(c) of the Unified Code of Corrections (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 1005-6-1(c)).
Section 5-6-1(c) provides, in pertinent part:
"The court may, upon a plea of guilty or a stipulation by the defendant of the facts supporting the charge or a finding of guilt, defer further proceedings and the imposition of a sentence, and enter an order for supervision of the defendant if the defendant is not charged with a felony * * *." (Emphasis added.) Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 1005-6-1(c).
The State argues that this provision authorizes the imposition of supervision only where the defendant: (1) pleads guilty; or (2) stipulates to the facts supporting (a) the charge or (b) a finding of guilt. This is the interpretation which was adopted by the appellate court in People v. Bodine (1981), 97 Ill. App.3d 42. Defendant interprets the statute to allow for supervision whenever an accused: (1) pleads guilty; (2) stipulates to the facts supporting the charge; or (3) is found guilty following trial. The Illinois State Bar Association and Chicago Bar Association, who were allowed to file a brief as amici curiae, argue that to construe the statute otherwise would violate a defendant's right to equal protection and due process of law. They urge that a defendant who opts for a jury trial is improperly punished more severely than one who forgoes this right.
"The cardinal rule of statutory construction, to which all other canons and rules are subordinate, is to ascertain and give effect to the true intent and meaning of the legislature." (People ex rel. Hanrahan v. White (1972), 52 Ill.2d 70, 73, cert. denied (1972), 409 U.S. 1059, 34 L.Ed.2d 511, 93 S.Ct. 562, citing People v. Hudson (1970), 46 Ill.2d 177; People ex rel. Cason v. Ring (1968), 41 Ill.2d 305; Electrical Contractors Association of City of Chicago, Inc. v. Illinois Building Authority (1966), 33 Ill.2d 587.) In determining the legislative intent, courts> should consider first the statutory language. (Harvey Firemen's Association v. City of Harvey (1979), 75 Ill.2d 358.) As noted by the State, where the language is clear "it will be given effect without resorting to other aids for construction." (People v. Robinson (1982), 89 Ill.2d 469, 475-76; Franzese v. Trinko (1977), 66 Ill.2d 136, 139.) Where the language is ambiguous, however, it is appropriate to examine the legislative history. People ex rel. Hanrahan v. White (1972), 52 Ill.2d 70.
We agree with the appellate court that the statutory language is "reasonably susceptible" to both interpretations urged. On the one hand, the use of the disjunctive "or" indicates that all three alternatives, as suggested by defendant, were contemplated as a basis for imposing supervision. (See People v. Vraniak (1955), 5 Ill.2d 384, 389.) On the other hand, defendant's interpretation of the statute renders supervision available, for misdemeanants, in every conceivable circumstance. Therefore, the legislature could have simply stated that supervision is a possible disposition in any misdemeanor case. It was unnecessary to spell out, as the section does, the situations in which supervision may be properly imposed. Because we recognize an ambiguity in the statutory language we will consider the legislative history, which aids in explaining the uncertain verbiage.
Prior to 1976, it was a common practice for trial courts> to grant defendants supervision, regardless of whether they pleaded guilty or were found guilty after trial. In 1976, this court determined that judges lacked authority to place defendants on supervision, and referred the matter to the legislature. (People v. Breen (1976), 62 Ill.2d 323.) Shortly thereafter, Senate Bill 1997 and House Bill 3954 were introduced to provide statutory authorization for supervision.
Senate Bill 1997 provided that a defendant may receive supervision whenever he or she "pleads guilty or is found guilty." The sponsor of the bill described it as follows:
"I . . . I think you have this . . . this bill deals with a person [who] pleads guilty or is found guilty. * * * This is where he pleads guilty and he is found guilty. In other words, the defendant pleads guilty or in a trial is found . . . find . . . found guilty.
[I]n regards to this, the defendant pleads guilty and is found guilty. Then in the discretion of the court, then they can place him on supervision. There is a finding. He pleads guilty or he's found guilty." (79th Ill. Gen. Ass'y Transcript of Senate Proceedings, Third Reading of Senate bill 1997, June 23, 1976, at 4-7.)
An amendment which would have eliminated supervision after trial was offered in ...