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In Re T.a.c.

OPINION FILED NOVEMBER 26, 1985.

IN RE T.A.C., A MINOR (THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PETITIONER-APPELLEE,

v.

T.A.C., RESPONDENT-APPELLANT).



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Champaign County; the Hon. Robert J. Steigmann, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE SPITZ DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

An original and supplemental petition was filed in the circuit court of Champaign County alleging T.A.C. was a delinquent minor under the Juvenile Court Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 37, par. 701-1 et seq.). On July 12, 1983, the minor stipulated to the criminal damage to property allegation on the supplemental petition, was adjudicated delinquent and declared a ward of the court. The original petition was withdrawn and dismissed. The minor was placed on 24 months' probation and ordered to serve four days in the youth detention center. The record indicates T.A.C. had been drinking alcoholic beverages when the criminal damage offense occurred.

A petition to revoke probation was filed on June 8, 1984, alleging that T.A.C. had committed a theft and a battery.

On August 8, 1984, the minor entered a stipulation to the theft charge. A dispositional hearing was held on August 30, 1984. The court imposed a new 12-month term of probation and ordered the minor to spend 18 days in detention.

On April 22, 1985, a petition to revoke probation was again filed based upon charges of four burglary counts and one count of criminal damage to property. On May 10, 1985, the minor stipulated to the criminal damage to property allegation in return for the dismissal of the other allegations and for the State's Attorney's agreement to abide by the Court Services Department's recommendation as to disposition. Again, the minor had apparently consumed alcohol prior to the commission of the underlying criminal damage offense.

The minor was in detention from April 19, 1985, until May 21, 1985, the date of the dispositional hearing. The court noted it had received and read the dispositional report. Attached to the report were evaluations of the minor from the Champaign County Mental Health Center and the Prairie Center for Substance Abuse. The former report noted the minor's "long history of family stress and traumas culminating with the father's departure," and his "learning disabilities." This report recommended certain counseling and treatment for the minor. The latter report indicated that T.A.C. was in the "prodromal" stage of alcoholism and opined that the minor was in need of residential treatment for his alcohol/drug abuse.

The State's Attorney recommended T.A.C. be placed in the Department of Corrections as per the recommendation of the Court Services Department through the dispositional report. The minor's attorney urged the minor be afforded treatment in a substance abuse rehabilitation program. In support of this recommendation of alternative placement, testimony was received from the clinical director of Bloomington's Lighthouse Substance Abuse Program. This witness testified Lighthouse offered a comprehensive residential, five-stage evaluation, counseling and treatment program with juveniles receiving separate housing and treatment. The witness testified in her opinion T.A.C. was eligible for treatment in Lighthouse.

The trial court, citing the serious nature of the minor's behavior, ordered him committed to the Department of Corrections. The court stated its belief that the minor's best interest would not be served by alternative placement under the Juvenile Court Act. The minor appeals.

The issues presented for review are:

(1) Whether the record of the minor's admission and stipulation shows the trial court's acceptance of the admission and stipulation was constitutionally valid.

(2) Whether the trial court's commitment of the minor was appropriate, given the minor's history of criminal activity.

(3) Whether, where the trial court's decision was rendered with due consideration of the other alternative placements, it was not abuse of discretion to reject those alternatives, placing the minor with the Department of Corrections instead.

(4) Whether, where the trial court properly warned the minor that his probation would be revoked if he violated its conditions, it was not an abuse of discretion to commit the minor to the Department of Corrections.

The minor claims the trial court erred because, he, the minor, was not given an opportunity to affirm or withdraw his admission and stipulation after the court had admonished him as to his rights under the petition to revoke ...


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