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People v. Black

February 19, 2002

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
JAMES E. BLACK, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kane County. No. 94-CF-610 Honorable James T. Doyle, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Bowman

Released for publication March 29, 2002.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
JAMES E. BLACK, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kane County. No. 94-CF-610 Honorable James T. Doyle, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Bowman

PUBLISHED

 Pursuant to a plea agreement, defendant, James E. Black, pleaded guilty to home invasion (720 ILCS 5/12--11(a)(1) (West 1998)). In exchange for the guilty plea, the State agreed to drop three other charges that were pending against defendant, but no agreement was made about defendant's sentence. At the time defendant pleaded guilty, no evidence about the victims' ages was presented to the court. However, at the sentencing hearing, the court found that defendant would be sentenced to an extended-term of imprisonment because the victims of the home invasion were over 60 years old. See 730 ILCS 5/5--5--3.2(b)(4)(ii) (West 1998). Once the court determined that defendant was eligible for an extended sentence, the court evaluated the various aggravating and mitigating factors and sentenced defendant to 40 years' imprisonment. Defendant moved to reconsider his sentence, and the trial court granted the motion, reducing defendant's sentence to 34 years' imprisonment. Defendant appeals, arguing that his extended-term sentence was improper under Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466, 147 L. Ed. 2d 435, 120 S. Ct. 2348 (2000). We vacate defendant's sentence and remand the cause.

Before defendant pleaded guilty, the trial court advised defendant that home invasion was a Class X felony. As such, defendant could be sentenced to between 6 and 30 years' imprisonment. The trial court also told defendant that if an extended-term sentence applied, defendant could face 30 to 60 years' imprisonment. The factual basis for defendant's plea revealed that on December 13, 1993, defendant went to the Elgin home of Charles Jewel and Jewel's wife. While armed with a dangerous weapon, defendant and his co-defendants threatened the Jewels and robbed them. The State failed to tell the court that the Jewels were over 60 years old when defendant robbed them.

At the sentencing hearing, Charles Jewel testified that he was 67 years old when the home invasion occurred, and Jewel's wife was 64 years old. During the State's closing arguments, the assistant State's Attorney argued that defendant should be sentenced to an extended-term of imprisonment because the victims of the home invasion were over 60 years old. The court asked defendant's attorney if he had an argument to present on that issue, and the attorney said no. The court then found that defendant was eligible for an extended-term sentence.

The closing arguments continued, and, when the arguments concluded, the court began to evaluate the various aggravating and mitigating factors that were presented. During a discussion of these factors the court made the following statement:

"The defendant committed the offense against persons 60 years of age or older. Okay, but I would not use that in terms of *** adding on more years in terms of the aggravation if we get to the extended term[.] ***

Legislature has put up and allows me to take in a lot of different factors and a lot of different issues and one of the things that the legislature has asked me to do is to look at and gives me the option to make extended term on behalf of crimes committed against senior citizens. And that certainly was here and it was certainly terror.

So first of all is that I'm going to impose extended term." The court then assessed the various aggravating and mitigating factors and found that a 40-year sentence was appropriate. Defendant moved to reconsider his sentence, and the trial court granted the motion, reducing defendant's sentence to 34 years' imprisonment. This timely appeal followed.

Defendant argues that the trial court erred when it imposed an extended-term sentence because under Apprendi the fact warranting an extended-term sentence here, i.e., the age of the victims, was neither charged in the indictment nor proved beyond a reasonable doubt at trial. The State suggests that Apprendi does not apply because defendant was sentenced to a term of imprisonment that was within the sentencing range for this offense. The State claims that the single sentencing range for each class of felony includes the minimum term available under section 5--8--1 of the ...


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