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In re M.G.

June 13, 2000

IN RE M.G., A MINOR THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PETITIONER-APPELLEE, V. M.G., RESPONDENT-APPELLANT


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Boone County. No. 95--JD--78

Honorable Gerald F. Grubb, Judge, Presiding.

PRESIDING JUSTICE BOWMAN delivered the opinion of the court:

Respondent, M.G., appeals from circuit court orders that found him to be delinquent and committed him to the Department of Corrections, Juvenile Division, for committing the offenses of aggravated battery (720 ILCS 5/12--4(b) (West 1998)) (two counts) and robbery (720 ILCS 5/18--1(a) (West 1998)). Respondent contends that the trial court acted without authority to find him delinquent or to order him committed to the Department of Corrections based on the offenses of aggravated battery and robbery because the supplemental petition that the State filed regarding those offenses failed to allege that he was delinquent or that it was in his and the public's best interest that he be adjudged a ward of the court. Respondent argues that such allegations are required by section 5--13 of the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 (Act) (705 ILCS 405/5--13 (West 1996) (repealed effective January 1, 1999 (now see 705 ILCS 405/5--520 (West 1998))). We affirm.

On February 14, 1996, a petition for adjudication of wardship was filed regarding respondent (petition No. 1). Respondent was 11 years old at the time. Petition No. 1 alleged that respondent was delinquent and that it was in the best interest of respondent and the public that respondent be adjudged a ward of the court because respondent had committed the offense of robbery. Respondent was subsequently found to be delinquent and was made a ward of the court. On November 18, 1996, a dispositional order was entered placing respondent on probation for two years.

On January 28, 1997, another petition for adjudication of wardship (petition No. 2) was filed regarding respondent. Petition No. 2 alleged that respondent was delinquent and that it was in the best interest of respondent and the public that respondent be adjudged a ward of the court because respondent had committed the offense of unlawful damage to a vehicle (625 ILCS 5/4--102(a)(1) (West 1996)). Respondent was subsequently found to be delinquent and was made a ward of the court. On March 10, 1997, a dispositional order related to petition No. 2 was entered. The order extended and modified the dispositional order that was entered pursuant to petition No. 1 by placing respondent on probation until his seventeenth birthday. The order also continued the terms of the dispositional order that was entered pursuant to petition No. 1.

On December 2, 1997, a petition to revoke respondent's probation was filed. The petition alleged that respondent violated one of the terms of the dispositional order that modified and extended his probation. The alleged violation was respondent's failure to attend alcohol and drug treatment sessions.

On July 31, 1998, a petition for supplemental relief was filed regarding respondent. The supplemental petition is the subject of this appeal. The supplemental petition referred to the March 10, 1997, dispositional order and noted that respondent had been adjudged delinquent, had been made a ward of the court, and had been placed on probation until his seventeenth birthday. The supplemental petition alleged that on July 27, 1998, respondent had committed three counts of aggravated battery and one count of robbery. The State subsequently dismissed one of the aggravated battery counts. The supplemental petition asked the court to "modify the previous order and grant appropriate relief under the Juvenile Court Act." The supplemental petition did not allege that respondent was delinquent or that it would be in the best interest of respondent and the public that respondent be adjudged a ward of the court.

On August 24, 1998, the trial court conducted an adjudicatory hearing regarding the supplemental petition. Respondent's attorney advised the court that respondent wished to enter a plea of guilty. The trial court admonished respondent regarding his proposed guilty plea. The State presented a factual basis in support of the guilty plea. The trial court then accepted respondent's guilty plea and found respondent delinquent.

On August 31, 1998, following a dispositional hearing, the trial court entered a dispositional order committing respondent to the Department of Corrections, Juvenile Division. The trial court later denied respondent's motions to vacate the disposition and to reconsider his sentence. Respondent's timely appeal followed.

On appeal, respondent contends that the dispositional order that was entered on August 31, 1998, must be reversed because the supplemental petition failed to conform to the requirements of section 5--13 of the Act (705 ILCS 405/5--13 (West 1996)) that was in effect at the time of these proceedings. Respondent argues that under section 5--13 a supplemental petition must allege that the minor in question is delinquent and that it is in the best interest of the minor and the public that the minor be adjudged a ward of the court. In respondent's view, the State's failure to include these allegations in the supplemental petition that was filed in this case rendered the petition inadequate as a basis for the delinquency proceedings that occurred regarding the aggravated battery and robbery counts. Respondent also takes the position that the trial court's treatment of the petition as an adequate basis for the delinquency proceedings violated his due process rights because he was not properly informed that the State was seeking a finding of delinquency regarding the offenses alleged in the petition. Respondent raises these issues for the first time on appeal.

Respondent relies heavily on his construction of section 5--13. We therefore begin our analysis by construing section 5--13. We conduct de novo review when resolving an issue of statutory construction. Paris v. Feder, 179 Ill. 2d 173, 177-78 (1997).

Our supreme court recently reiterated the well-established principles that guide us in construing a statute. The court stated:

"The fundamental rule of statutory interpretation is to give effect to the intention of the legislature. A court first looks to the words of the statute. The language of the statute is the best indication of the legislative intent. When the statutory language is clear, it must be given effect without resort to other tools of interpretation. In interpreting a statute, it is never proper for a court to depart from plain language by reading into a statute exceptions, limitations, or conditions which conflict with the ...


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