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People v. Allegri





Appeal from the Appellate Court for the Fourth District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Champaign County, the Hon. John L. Davis, Judge, presiding.


The defendant, Anita Allegri, entered a negotiated plea of guilty in the circuit court of Champaign County to the offense of unlawful restraint (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 10-3(a)). She was charged with unlawfully attempting to take a two-year-old child from his father. The sentence was 30 months' probation conditioned upon her periodic incarceration in the county correctional facility as a work-release prisoner. In addition, her probation required her to refrain from violating any State laws and to report on a regular basis for psychological counseling.

Six months later the State charged her with a probation violation and sought to revoke her probation. The evidence demonstrated that the defendant had unlawfully restrained a 13-year-old boy in violation of the criminal code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 10-3(a)) and, as a result of that infraction, a condition of her probation had been violated.

Her defense was that she was insane (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 6-2(a)) and could not be adjudged to have violated her probation because she was unable to control herself. Psychiatric testimony established that the defendant suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. The trial court made a specific finding that the State had failed to rebut this evidence, and that if the defense of insanity was available in a probation-revocation proceeding, the defendant would prevail.

The trial court ruled, however, that in a probation-revocation proceeding the defense of insanity was not available to the probationer. The defendant appealed, and the appellate court affirmed the trial court's ruling with one judge dissenting (127 Ill. App.3d 1041). We allowed the defendant's petition for leave to appeal (94 Ill.2d R. 315(a)). Thus, the question we are called upon to answer is whether insanity is an available defense in a probation-revocation proceeding, a question which this court has never considered.

The defendant argues that the insanity defense is appropriate here because the underlying basis for the probation revocation is a violation of the criminal code. She suggests that the criminal code is silent as to whether the defense is available in a revocation proceeding, and that the defense should therefore be applied because the legislature did not specifically exclude it.

Not only is defendant's statutory argument unsound, but her position would require that we ignore the legislative purpose behind probation.

The issue presented requires us to construe section 6-2(a) of the Criminal Code of 1961. It provides:

"Insanity. (a) A person is not criminally responsible for conduct if at the time of such conduct, as a result of mental disease or mental defect, he lacks substantial capacity either to appreciate the criminality of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of law." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 6-2(a).)

To determine legislative intent, we first look to the plain meaning of the statute as found in the words of section 6-2(a). (See, e.g., People v. Boykin (1983), 94 Ill.2d 138, 141; 2A Sutherland, Statutory Construction sec. 48 (4th ed. 1984).) Examination of this statute reveals that the legislature did not directly address whether the insanity defense applied to probation-revocation proceedings. The use of the words "criminally responsible" and "criminality of his conduct," though, indicates that the legislature was concerned with the possibility of conviction of an offense in the absence of criminal intent. While this language is not conclusive, it does suggest that the General Assembly's intent was that the insanity defense should apply only to proceedings in which guilt or innocence is to be determined. A probation-revocation hearing is not, however, such a proceeding. (Gagnon v. Scarpelli (1973), 411 U.S. 778, 36 L.Ed.2d 656, 93 S.Ct. 1756.) It takes place only after the defendant has already been convicted, sentenced to probation, and then has violated the conditions of the probation.

Similarly, section 5-2-4 of the Unified Code of Corrections (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 1005-2-4), which sets forth the procedure for treating defendants who are found not guilty by reason of insanity, also supports the conclusion that the insanity defense is not available in revocation proceedings. It requires a hearing to determine whether a defendant acquitted by reason of insanity should be involuntarily committed to a mental health facility. But, because the defendant in a probation-revocation proceeding has already been found guilty rather than acquitted, commitment of a defendant to a mental health facility by reason of his acquittal has no relevance to such a proceeding. This is especially true because a probation-revocation proceeding is not one which leads to the acquittal or conviction of a defendant.

While the legislature did not explicitly exclude a defense based on insanity in a probation-revocation proceeding, this defense is inconsistent with the purpose of probation revocation. Probation is a form of judgment after the defendant has been found guilty. (People ex rel. Barrett v. Bardens (1946), 394 Ill. 511, 517.) The appellate court properly characterized probation as a privilege. It is employed when the defendant's continued presence in society would not be threatening and the defendant's rehabilitation would be enhanced. (See, e.g., People v. Molz (1953), 415 Ill. 183, 188; Knight v. Estelle (5th Cir. 1974), 501 F.2d 963, 964.) A violation of probation demonstrates to the court that the defendant is a threat to society and that his continued presence outside of jail is unwarranted.

The insanity defense had no bearing on the real issue at defendant's revocation hearing, which was whether the defendant's continued presence in society presents a danger. When the defendant unlawfully restrained a child, she demonstrated the threat which her continued freedom poses for society. That threat is no less ...

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