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People v. Graves

September 24, 2009

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, APPELLEE,
v.
WILLIE GRAVES, APPELLANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Karmeier

Chief Justice Fitzgerald and Justices Freeman, Thomas, Kilbride, Garman, and Burke concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

After a bench trial in the circuit court of Cook County, defendant Willie Graves was convicted of the Class 2 offense of possession of a stolen motor vehicle (625 ILCS 5/4--103(a)(1), (b) (West 2006)). The court sentenced defendant to a Class X term of nine years based on his prior criminal convictions. The court also imposed several monetary charges, including, as stated on a form in the record, "Costs and Fees" of $10 for the "Mental Health Court" pursuant to section 5--1101(d-5) of the Counties Code (55 ILCS 5/5--1101(d-5) (West 2006)), and $5 for the "Youth Diversion/Peer Court" pursuant to section 5--1101(e) of the Counties Code (55 ILCS 5/5--1101(e) (West 2006)). On appeal, defendant argued that these two assessments should be vacated as unconstitutional where there was no rational relationship between the legislative purpose underlying the fees and his offense of possession of a stolen motor vehicle. The appellate court, relying on People v. Paige, 378 Ill. App. 3d 95 (2007), and People v. Price, 375 Ill. App. 3d 684 (2007), held that both the $10 mental health court fee and the $5 youth diversion/peer court fee were fines, and thus affirmed their imposition by the trial court, finding no impropriety in these "pecuniary penalties." No. 1--06--2504 (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23(c)). We granted defendant's petition for leave to appeal. 210 Ill. 2d R. 315.

BACKGROUND

Defendant did not, on direct appeal, raise any issue concerning the validity of his conviction or sentence and, thus, this appeal involves the sole question of whether the appellate court correctly found that the monetary charges imposed by the circuit court herein are fines and not fees. Therefore, we note only briefly the facts underlying defendant's conviction.

Several hours after Evelyn Vilchis reported to police that the 2002 Pontiac she had parked near her place of work was stolen, Officer Toutman curbed the Pontiac after observing it go through a red light. A computer check of the license plate revealed that the vehicle had been reported stolen, and when Toutman asked defendant whose car he was driving, defendant stated that he did not know who owned the car. After being handcuffed and receiving the Miranda warnings, defendant told Toutman that "he didn't steal the car his friend Mark did." Although Graves had the keys to the Pontiac in his possession, neither Vilchis nor her husband Eduardo Rivera, the vehicle's owner, gave Graves the keys or permission to drive the Pontiac. The trial court found defendant guilty of possession of a stolen motor vehicle.

At sentencing, defendant received a nine-year term of imprisonment. The court also imposed several charges in a written order, the stated purpose of which was "the assessment of fines, fees, costs, reimbursements and other monetary penalties." As previously mentioned, the two charges of interest here, in addition to several others, were listed under the category of "Costs and Fees." The only other category under which charges were imposed was "Trial Fees." On appeal, the First District of the Appellate Court found "no basis for departing from the reasoning expressed and conclusions drawn" in its previous opinions in Paige and Price, and accordingly held that the mental health court and youth diversion/peer court charges were "fines," that neither fine was excessive where defendant was convicted of a Class 2 felony, and that no impropriety existed in the imposition of these "pecuniary penalties" on defendant. No. 1--06--2504 (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23(c)).

Paige and Price, which contain the analytical underpinnings of the appellate court's analysis in this case, relied, in turn, on the framework for considering constitutional challenges to statutorily imposed fines and fees set forth by this court in People v. Jones, 223 Ill. 2d 569 (2006). See Paige, 378 Ill. App. 3d at 100-04; Price, 375 Ill. App. 3d at 699-701. Therefore, the propriety of the appellate court's finding herein that the charges were constitutionally imposed fines must necessarily involve an examination of the reasoning set forth in Jones, Paige, and Price.

ANALYSIS

In connection with finding defendant guilty of possession of a stolen motor vehicle, the court, inter alia, ordered defendant to pay a total of $615 in "fees." The fees included a $10 mental health court fee, which is used to finance "the mental health court, the county drug court, or both" pursuant to section 5--1101(d-5) of the Counties Code (55 ILCS 5/5--1101(d--5) (West 2006)). Also included was a $5 youth diversion/peer court fee, which is deposited into "an account specifically for the operation and administration of a teen court, peer court, peer jury, youth court, or other youth diversion program" pursuant to section 5--1101(e) (55 ILCS 5/5--1101(e) (West 2006)). Defendant asks this court to vacate these two fees and reduce the total assessment by $15 because they violate his federal and state due process rights. U.S. Const., amend. XIV; Ill. Const.1970, art. I, §2. He contends that the assessment of these fees was unconstitutional because neither charge bears a rational relationship to the offense of possession of a stolen motor vehicle.

Whether a statute is constitutional is reviewed under a de novo standard. People v. Jones, 223 Ill. 2d 569, 596 (2006). Statutes are presumed constitutional, and this court must construe a statute so as to uphold its constitutionality if there is any reasonable way to do so. Jones, 223 Ill. 2d at 595-96. The party challenging the validity of a statute has the burden of clearly demonstrating a constitutional violation. Jones, 223 Ill. 2d at 596; In re R.C., 195 Ill. 2d 291, 296 (2001). The statute at issue provides, in relevant part, as follows:

"Additional fees to finance court system. A county board may enact by ordinance or resolution the following fees:

* * * (d--5) A $10 fee to be paid by the defendant on judgment of guilty or a grant of supervision under Section 5--9--1 of the Unified Code of Corrections [730 ILCS 5/5--9--1] to be placed in the county general fund and used to finance the county mental health court, the county drug court, or both.

(e) In each county in which a teen court, peer court, peer jury, youth court, or other youth diversion program has been created, a county may adopt a mandatory fee of up to $5 to be assessed as provided in this subsection. Assessments collected by the clerk of the circuit court pursuant to this subsection must be deposited into an account specifically for the operation and administration of a teen court, peer court, peer jury, youth court, or other youth diversion program. The clerk of the circuit court shall collect the fees established in this subsection and must remit the fees to the teen court, peer court, peer jury, youth court, or other ...


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