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People v. Hamalainen

July 01, 2003

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
GREG HAMALAINEN, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Lake County. Nos. 00-DT-3882; 00-TR-107857 Honorable Thomas R. Smoker, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice O'malley

PUBLISHED

Defendant, Greg Hamalainen, appeals from his sentence of conditional discharge following his open plea of guilty to the offense of operating a motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol concentration in excess of 0.08 (625 ILCS 5/11--501(a)(1) (West 2000)). Defendant contends that the circuit court of Lake County erred by holding, pursuant to section 5--6--1(d)(1) of the Unified Code of Corrections (Code of Corrections) (730 ILCS 5/5--6--1(d)(1) (West 2000)), that a sentence of supervision was precluded as a result of his 1987 conviction of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) in the state of Wisconsin (see Wis. Stat. Ann. §346.63 (West 1987)), because the Wisconsin statute was "similar" to the Illinois statute. We affirm.

On July 27, 2000, defendant was arrested and charged with the offenses of DUI (625 ILCS 5/11--501(a)(2) (West 2000)), driving with a blood-alcohol concentration in excess of 0.08 (625 ILCS 5/11--501(a)(1) (West 2000)), and driving in the wrong lane (625 ILCS 5/11--701 (West 2000)). On October 15, 2001, defendant entered an open plea of guilty on the charge of driving with a blood-alcohol concentration in excess of 0.08 (625 ILCS 5/11--501(a)(1) (West 2000)), and the remaining charges were nol-prossed.

At sentencing, defendant requested a sentence of court supervision. The trial court denied the request and imposed a sentence of conditional discharge instead. Defendant filed a motion to reconsider, which was denied. Following the hearing on defendant's motion to reconsider, the trial court entered an order specifically noting that defendant previously had been found guilty of driving with a prohibited blood-alcohol concentration in Wisconsin (see Wis. Stat. Ann. §346.63 (West 1987)), and that the Wisconsin statute was similar to the Illinois statute for the purposes of section 5--6--1(d) of the Code of Corrections. Defendant timely appeals.

On appeal, defendant's sole contention is that the Wisconsin statute is not similar to the Illinois statute for purposes of section 5--6--1(d) of the Code of Corrections. Defendant argues that the first violation of section 346.63 (Wis. Stat. Ann. §346.63 (West 1987)) is punishable only by a fine and not jail time. Wis. Stat. Ann. §346.65(2)(a) (West 1987). According to defendant, the prosecution of a first-time offender is civil in nature (see County of Racine v. Smith, 122 Wis. 2d 431, 435, 362 N.W.2d 439, 441 (App. 1984)), and this renders the Wisconsin statute dissimilar to the Illinois statute for sentencing purposes. Because the statute is not similar to section 11--501 of the Illinois Vehicle Code (625 ILCS 5/11--501 (West 2000)), defendant argues, the trial court erred in determining that defendant was precluded by section 5--6--1(d) of the Code of Corrections from receiving a sentence of supervision.

The State first contends that defendant has waived or forfeited these arguments by failing to provide a sufficient record on appeal and by failing to obey the supreme court rules regulating the content and form of appellate briefs. We have examined the record and conclude that it is at least minimally sufficient to allow us to address defendant's contention on appeal. We further note, however, that defendant could have filed a bystander's report of the proceedings at issue here, which would have bolstered the record on appeal. As to the State's argument that defendant has failed to observe the requirements of the supreme court rules in completing his brief on appeal, we must agree. The State points out that defendant has not provided pinpoint citations, has improperly compiled his table of points and authorities, and has not numbered the pages of his brief. While compliance with the supreme court rules is mandatory (see Ryan v. Katz, 234 Ill. App. 3d 536, 537 (1992)), the flaws in defendant's brief are not so serious as to preclude our ability to address the merits. We choose not to impose the harsh sanction of striking defendant's brief and dismissing the appeal (see People v. Kraft, 277 Ill. App. 3d 221, 224 (1995)), because the issues are straightforward and we believe the interests of justice are better served by addressing the merits of defendant's substantive argument on appeal.

The State argues that the two statutes are similar and, therefore, the operation of section 5--6--1(d) of the Code of Corrections precludes defendant, as a matter of law, from receiving a sentence of court supervision. We agree.

We begin our analysis by considering the pertinent portions of section 5--6--1 of the Code of Corrections (730 ILCS 5/5--6--1 (West 2000)). Section 5--6--1(c) of the Code of Corrections provides that a court may, upon a defendant's guilty plea or a stipulated bench trial, impose a sentence of court supervision. 730 ILCS 5/5--6--1(c) (West 2000). Section 5--6--1(d) of the Code of Corrections provides:

"The provision of paragraph (c) shall not apply to a defendant charged with violating Section 11--501 of the Illinois Vehicle Code [(625 ILCS 5/11-501 (West 2000))] or a similar provision of a local ordinance when the defendant has previously been:

(1) convicted for a violation of Section 11--501 of the Illinois Vehicle Code or a similar provision of a local ordinance or any similar law or ordinance of another state; or

(2) assigned supervision for a violation of Section 11-- 501 of the Illinois Vehicle Code or a similar provision of a local ordinance or any similar law or ordinance of another state; or

(3) pleaded guilty to or stipulated to the facts supporting a charge or a finding of guilty to a violation of Section 11--503 of the Illinois Vehicle Code [(625 ILCS 5/11-- 503 (West 2000))] or *** any similar law or ordinance of another state, and the plea or stipulation ...


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