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People v. Clark

June 12, 2000

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
THEODORE CLARK, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 12th Judicial Circuit, Will County, Illinois Nos. 95--CF--2522 96--CF--4140 Honorable Amy Bertani-Tomczak Judge, Presiding

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Holdridge

Defendant, Theodore Clark, pled guilty to two drug offenses and was sentenced to probation. His probation was eventually revoked for, inter alia, failure to obtain a court-ordered drug and alcohol evaluation. He now claims that this failure cannot support the revocation, arguing that: (1) the written probation orders did not direct him to complete the evaluation by a certain date, and (2) he did not willfully fail to pay for the evaluation. We affirm.

BACKGROUND

Defendant pled guilty to a charge of unlawful possession of a controlled substance (720 ILCS 570/402(c) (West 1994)) and was sentenced to probation. One of the conditions in the written probation order required him to "obtain a drug & alcohol evaluation and comply with the recommendations therein." At the plea hearing, the judge addressed this requirement and instructed defendant to return on January 11, 1996, with proof that he had obtained the evaluation.

Defendant appeared on January 11 and advised that the evaluation was scheduled for that afternoon. The judge issued a continuance and scheduled a new hearing for February 15, but defendant failed to appear on that date. One month later, he informed the judge that he missed the hearing because he attended his cousin's funeral instead. He also advised that he had not obtained the drug and alcohol evaluation because he had been caring for his father.

The State filed a petition to revoke defendant's probation. A revocation hearing was scheduled for June 7, 1996, but defendant failed to appear on that date. He subsequently informed the judge that he missed the hearing because he went to work instead. The judge then granted him 30 days to "make great strides" toward complying with his probation terms. Eight days later, he was charged with another offense of unlawful possession of a controlled substance.

At a hearing on February 10, 1997, defendant admitted the State's alleged probation violations and pled guilty to the new charge. His probation was revoked, and he was resentenced to a new probationary period for his first offense. He was also sentenced to a concurrent probationary period for his second offense. The corresponding order again required him to "obtain a drug & alcohol evaluation and comply with the recommendations therein." The judge instructed him to return for a hearing on March 27, 1997, with proof that he had obtained the evaluation.

Defendant failed to appear on that date. During a subsequent hearing, he explained that he missed the court date because he went to work instead. He also advised that he did not obtain the drug and alcohol evaluation because there was a misunderstanding regarding the fee. However, his probation officer had clarified the matter and arranged a fee of $35. He was scheduled to obtain the evaluation on April 15, 1997. The judge issued another continuance and ordered him to return for a hearing on May 8 with proof that he had completed the evaluation.

He appeared on that date but advised that he did not keep his appointment for the evaluation because he went to work instead. He said a new evaluation was scheduled for that afternoon. He also advised that all his money was going to his children, who were about to graduate from college. The judge issued another continuance and ordered him to return on June 5, 1997, with proof that he had completed the evaluation. He appeared on that date without such proof, stating that he missed the appointment because his sister was in the hospital "being very irate."

The parties then agreed that defendant's probation officer would monitor his compliance with the court's orders. The judge specifically informed him that such compliance included obtaining the drug and alcohol evaluation. The probation officer eventually reported that defendant had violated his probation by failing to, inter alia, obtain the evaluation. The State filed a petition to revoke his probation, and a revocation hearing was held on June 30, 1998.

At the hearing, defendant testified that he had not obtained the evaluation because he could not afford it. He acknowledged making $762 in March of 1997. When asked if he spent any of that money on the evaluation, he replied, "No, sir. At that time I was helping my brother." He acknowledged making $382 in September of 1997 but said he needed the money to pay rent. He also explained that he sent money to his son to help with funeral arrangements for his granddaughter.

Defendant's attorney argued that his probation could not be revoked for failure to obtain the evaluation--contending that the failure was not willful but rather a product of his inability to pay the fee. Nevertheless, the judge revoked his probation, citing his failure to obtain the evaluation as a basis for the revocation.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

We will not disturb a trial court's finding in a proceeding to revoke probation unless it is against the manifest weight of the evidence. People v. Williams, 303 Ill. App. 3d 264, 707 N.E.2d 729 (1999). A finding is against the manifest weight of the evidence only if a contrary result is ...


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