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People v. Beck

May 14, 2003

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JAMEL BECK, DEFENDANT
(JAMEL BECK,PETITIONER-APPELLANT,
v.
WARDEN KENNETH BRILEY, RESPONDENT-APPELLEE).



Appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Clair County. Nos. 87-CF-150 & 00-MR-235 Honorable James K. Donovan, Judge, presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Chapman

PUBLISHED

In 1986 a petition alleging that Jamel Beck was a delinquent minor (14 years of age) was filed in the circuit court of St. Clair County. The petition alleged that Beck had committed six counts of attempted murder, six counts of aggravated battery, and one count of home invasion. The prosecution of the case was later transferred from juvenile court to adult criminal court pursuant to former section 2-7(3)(a) of the Juvenile Court Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 37, par. 702-7(3)(a)). Beck later pled guilty and was sentenced to six consecutive 20-year terms of imprisonment. In 2000, Beck filed a petition for habeas corpus alleging that the consecutive sentences imposed by the court violated the United States Supreme Court's decision in Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466, 147 L. Ed. 2d 435, 120 S. Ct. 2348 (2000). The circuit court found that Beck's sentencing was entitled to reconsideration under the Post-Conviction Hearing Act (725 ILCS 5/122-1 et seq. (West 2000)), in light of the holding in Apprendi. Beck's petition, however, was ultimately denied. Beck then filed a motion to reconsider, alleging that section 2-7 of the Juvenile Court Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 37, par. 702-7) was unconstitutional under Apprendi. The circuit court denied the motion, finding that Apprendi did not apply to the juvenile transfer proceedings. Beck brought this appeal. The sole issue for review is whether section 2-7, as it existed at the time Beck was transferred to adult criminal court, is unconstitutional. We affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

On November 25, 1986, a petition was filed pursuant to the Juvenile Court Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 37, par. 704-1 et seq.). The petition alleged that Beck had committed six counts of attempted murder and one count of aggravated battery. The petition alleged that Beck was delinquent, and it sought to have him declared a ward of the court. The same day, the State also filed a motion pursuant to former section 2-7(3)(a) of the Juvenile Court Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 37, par. 702-7(3)(a)), seeking to have Beck, 14 years of age, prosecuted under Illinois criminal law. After an evidentiary hearing, the court granted the State's motion to transfer Beck from juvenile court to adult criminal court. A grand jury later returned an indictment charging Beck with six counts of armed violence, six counts of attempted murder, six counts of aggravated battery, and one count of home invasion. Beck entered into a negotiated plea agreement in which he pled guilty to the six armed violence counts and the six aggravated battery counts. The court entered a judgment of conviction on Beck's plea of guilty and sentenced him to six consecutive 20-year terms of imprisonment.

Beck filed a timely motion to withdraw his guilty plea, which the court denied. Beck appealed. In People v. Beck, 190 Ill. App. 3d 748, 546 N.E.2d 1127 (1989), we vacated Beck's convictions for aggravated battery and affirmed his transfer under the Juvenile Court Act, as well as the court's imposition of consecutive sentences. In October 2000, Beck filed a petition for habeas corpus alleging that the court's imposition of consecutive sentences was unconstitutional under Apprendi. The circuit court found that the petition did not entitle him to a discharge, but the court found that he might be entitled to a reconsideration of his sentencing under the Post-Conviction Hearing Act (725 ILCS 5/122-1 et seq. (West 2000)), in light of the holding in Apprendi. However, the court later denied the petition, finding (1) that Apprendi did not apply to the consecutive sentencing, (2) that Beck had waived any perceived Apprendi violations when he entered the negotiated guilty plea, and (3) that an Apprendi claim could not be brought under the Habeas Corpus Act (735 ILCS 5/10-101 et seq. (West 2000)). Beck filed a motion to reconsider, arguing that section 2-7(3)(a) of the Juvenile Court Act was unconstitutional under Apprendi. The court found that Apprendi did not apply to juvenile transfer proceedings, and the court denied the motion. Beck filed this timely appeal.

II. ANALYSIS

On appeal, Beck argues that section 2-7(3)(a) of the Juvenile Court Act (as it existed at the time he was transferred to adult criminal court for prosecution) is unconstitutional because it can result in increased punishment due to facts not submitted to a jury and proved beyond a reasonable doubt, in violation of the United States Supreme Court's holding in Apprendi.

At the time Beck was transferred, section 2-7 provided in pertinent part as follows:

"Criminal prosecutions limited. (1) Except as provided in this Section, no minor who was under 17 years of age at the time of the alleged offense may be prosecuted under the criminal laws of this State or for violation of an ordinance of any political subdivision thereof.

(3) If a petition alleges commission by a minor 13 years of age or over of an act which constitutes a crime under the laws of this State, and, on motion of the State's Attorney, a Juvenile Judge, *** after investigation and hearing but before commencement of the adjudicatory hearing, finds that it is not in the best interests of the minor or of the public to proceed under this Act, the court may enter an order permitting prosecution under the criminal laws.

(a) In making its determination on a motion to permit prosecution under the criminal laws, the court shall consider among other matters: (1) whether there is sufficient evidence upon which a grand jury may be expected to return an indictment; (2) whether there is evidence that the alleged offense was committed in an aggressive and premeditated manner; (3) the age of the minor; (4) the previous history of the minor; (5) whether there are facilities particularly available to the Juvenile Court for the treatment and rehabilitation of the minor; and (6) whether the best interest of the minor and the security of the public may require that the minor continue in custody or under supervision for a period extending beyond his minority. *** (b) If criminal proceedings are instituted, the petition shall be dismissed insofar as the act or acts involved in the criminal proceedings are concerned. Taking of evidence in an adjudicatory hearing in any such case is a bar to criminal proceedings based upon the conduct alleged in the petition." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 37, par. 702-7(3)(a).

Beck notes that if he had been adjudicated in juvenile court, he would have faced a maximum punishment of commitment to the juvenile division of the Department of Corrections until his twenty-first birthday. Beck notes further that as the language of section 2-7(3)(a) demonstrates above, the judge considering the State's motion to transfer is required to engage in findings of fact. Beck contends that the trial court judge's determination that it was not in his or the public's "best interest" to proceed with his case under the Juvenile Court Act subjected him to increased punishment. Beck contends that the required findings of fact made by a judge, instead of a jury, and the resulting increased punishment that could result from such findings render section 2-7(3)(a) unconstitutional under Apprendi. Beck contends that, despite the fact that section 2-7 is not a sentencing law and does not, itself, impose a particular sentence, it nevertheless operates to change the entire sentencing scheme under which certain minors are sentenced and therefore subjects them to increased punishment.

In Apprendi, the Supreme Court held unconstitutional a New Jersey "hate crime" statute that permitted the trial court to impose a prison sentence of up to 20 years where it found, by a preponderance of the evidence, that a defendant's purpose in acting was to intimidate a victim due to the victim's race. The Apprendi Court held that because the findings the trial court was permitted to make involved an element of the crime, the defendant was denied his due process right to a determination of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt by a jury on each element of the crime charged. Apprendi, 530 U.S. at 477, 147 L. Ed. 2d at 447, 120 S. Ct. at 2356. It is on this basis that the Apprendi Court held as follows: "Other than the fact of a prior conviction, any fact that increases the penalty for a crime beyond the prescribed statutory maximum ...


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