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In re J.J.M

October 16, 1998


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Rapp


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kane County. No. 96--JD--0226

The People of the State of Illinois, Petitioner-Appellee, v. J.J.M., Respondent-Appellant.

Honorable Gene L. Nottolini, Judge, Presiding.

The minor respondent, J.J.M., born November 15, 1980, appeals the final Dispositional order of the circuit court committing him to the Department of Corrections, Juvenile Division (DOC), for an indeterminate term. Following his motion to reconsider the order of commitment, respondent timely appeals, arguing that the trial court committed reversible error in denying his request to order that he be given credit for time previously served and good time credit against his term of commitment to the DOC. We affirm.

On August 8, 1996, the State filed a petition to adjudicate respondent a delinquent minor and to make him a ward of the court. The State alleged that, on August 4, 1996, respondent committed aggravated discharge of a firearm (720 ILCS 5/24--1.2(a)(1) (West 1996)), a Class 1 felony. The petition alleged that the respondent knowingly and without legal authority discharged a firearm into a building located at Clifford Court in Elgin, Illinois. At the adjudicatory hearing on November 21, 1996, the court admonished respondent of his rights. Respondent admitted the allegations in the petition, and the court adjudicated him a delinquent minor.

The Dispositional hearing began on January 23, 1997. Respondent presented the testimony of Dale Tucker, a counselor at the Kane County Youth Home where respondent had been detained for about two months. Tucker testified that respondent's conduct was appropriate while at the youth home. Although respondent associated with gang members, he told Tucker he wanted to avoid gangs. Marty Offut, a Kane County probation officer, testified regarding respondent's satisfactory completion of an informal period of supervision that arose out of a 1994 burglary. Respondent's aunt testified regarding, among other things, respondent's difficult family life, his mother's drinking, her abusive boyfriend, respondent's lack of parental supervision, and the aunt's care of him.

Detective James Picardi of the Elgin police department testified regarding his investigation of the August 4, 1996, incident during which witnesses observed respondent fire three gunshots into the door of an apartment at Clifford Court that was occupied by several persons. One of the bullets penetrated the door.

Detective Douglas Anderson of the Beloit, Wisconsin, police department testified that he arrested respondent during an incident in Beloit in April 1996 during which the police determined that respondent was wanted on an outstanding Wisconsin warrant. The police had responded to a barking dog complaint. The police found respondent at the residence, which contained weapons including an AK47 assault rifle, and marijuana, cash, and drug paraphernalia.

The trial court found inter alia that it was in the best interests of the minor respondent and the public that he be made a ward of the court. The trial court ordered him committed to the DOC for an indeterminate term. The court denied respondent's request for 78 days of credit for time previously served in the county youth home. The trial court stated that it would note in its order the number of days respondent had spent in preDisposition detention. The court also commented in passing that it did not believe it could order the DOC to grant "good time."

On February 25, 1997, the trial court denied respondent's motion to reconsider his request for the 78 days' credit. The court drew a distinction between time spent in detention at the youth home and confinement in the DOC and concluded that it had no authority to grant the credit for time served in this instance. The court recognized that section 5--23(1)(a)(5) of the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 (Act) (705 ILCS 405/5--23(1)(a)(5) (West 1996)) provides that, where a court's Dispositional order places a minor in detention (for a period not exceeding 30 days), the "minor shall be given credit on the Dispositional order of detention for time spent in detention" under enumerated sections of the Act "as a result of the offense for which the Dispositional order was entered." However, the court pointed out that the Act is silent regarding an award of credit for time served against a term of commitment in the DOC. We agree that there was no legal authority for the trial court to order that credit be given against respondent's term of commitment in the DOC.

Respondent first argues that, like adult offenders, he is entitled to receive credit (78 days) against the maximum term of "incarceration" for time spent in preDispositional custody at the youth home as a result of the offense for which the subsequent "sentence" was imposed. Respondent relies on the provisions of section 5--8--7(b) of the Unified Code of Corrections (Unified Code) (730 ILCS 5/5--8--7(b) (West 1996)) which state, in pertinent part:

"The offender shall be given credit on the determinate sentence or maximum term and the minimum period of imprisonment for time spent in custody as a result of the offense for which the sentence was imposed, at the rate specified in Section 3--6--3 of this Code."

In a criminal proceeding, this statutory provision governs the calculation of the term of imprisonment of an offender sentenced as an adult. In arguing that a juvenile's Disposition should be treated like an adult offender's sentence, respondent also relies on section 1-- 2(3)(a) of the Juvenile Court Act, which states that the "procedural rights assured to the minor shall be the rights of adults unless specifically precluded by laws which enhance the protection of such minors." 705 ILCS 405/1--2(3)(a) (West 1996).In treating his commitment as equivalent to an adult offender's sentence in a criminal proceeding, respondent's legal argument for granting the credit rests on a faulty premise. There is no question that the overriding purpose of the Act is to ensure that the best interests of the minor, the minor's family, and the community are to be served; the proceedings under the Act are not criminal. In re W.C., ...

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