Appeal from the Circuit Court of the12th Judicial Circuit, Will County, Illinois, Circuit No. 10-MR-279 Honorable Bobbi N. Petrungaro Judge, Presiding.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Presiding Justice Schmidt
PRESIDING JUSTICE SCHMIDT delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justice O'Brien concurred in the judgment and opinion.
Justice Wright concurred in part and dissented in part, with opinion.
¶ 1 On September 19, 2007, the Illinois State Police denied plaintiff's application for a firearm owner's identification (FOID) card due to plaintiff's prior conviction for the offense of indecent solicitation of a child. Plaintiff filed a petition for hearing in the circuit court of Will County following the denial of his application. The trial court denied plaintiff's request for relief based upon the court's finding that plaintiff's prior conviction constituted a forcible felony. Plaintiff appeals, claiming the trial court erred in finding indecent solicitation of a child is a forcible felony. We affirm.
¶ 3 On March 17, 2010, plaintiff filed a petition for hearing following the denial of his application for a FOID card. In the petition, plaintiff claimed that on September 19, 2007, the Illinois State Police denied his application for a FOID card due to his prior conviction for the Class 2 felony offense of indecent solicitation of a child (720 ILCS 5/11-6 (West 2002)) on December 30, 2002.
¶ 4 The petition alleges that plaintiff owns a farm, is a productive member of society, and wishes to resume hunting with a firearm. Plaintiff further alleged that the 2002 solicitation case is his only criminal conviction, that he previously held a valid FOID card for many years, and that his history and reputation established he would not be likely to act in a dangerous manner if he received a FOID card. He argued that granting his petition would not be contrary to public interest.
¶ 5 At a hearing on November 17, 2010, the trial court asked if there was a record of "what was done at the ISP level." The prosecutor advised the court that there was no record "because this isn't, I don't think, an administrative review."
¶ 6 Plaintiff testified that on December 30, 2002, he pled guilty to the Class 2 felony offense of solicitation of a child in Cook County, Illinois. Plaintiff explained the circumstances that resulted in this conviction. He testified that he was on the Internet in a chat room, conversing with a person that he thought was a 14-year-old girl from Hillside, Illinois. Communications involved talk of a sexual nature. Plaintiff stated, "oral sex was discussed, doggy style sex, people on top; that type of stuff was discussed." During this conversation, he made arrangements to meet with the teenage girl at a bus stop. Plaintiff drove to the bus stop, saw a girl but never stopped. He was then pulled over by the police, who informed him that a girl who stole a soda claimed he was her uncle. Plaintiff indicated to the police that he was the girl's uncle and offered to pay for the soda that the girl stole.
¶ 7 After his arrest, he learned that he was communicating with a police officer online, rather than a teenage girl. He admitted that portions of the online conversation involved a discussion of various sexual positions, and because of that conversation, he pled guilty. He denied threatening the person online or forcing the person to meet him. He admitted having ammunition in his vehicle at the bus stop, but denied possessing a weapon in his vehicle. Plaintiff testified he had no other convictions for felony or misdemeanor offenses. Plaintiff stated that his sentence included two years' probation, "sexual rehabilitation, and 10 years registry." He told the court that he was at the end of his eighth year of registration and was in compliance with the registration requirements.
¶ 8 Scott Siebert testified that he had known plaintiff since 1974 and frequently hunted with plaintiff. Siebert said that he was aware of plaintiff's conviction and the circumstances surrounding the conviction. Siebert advised the court that plaintiff would not be a danger to the public if he was granted a FOID card because Siebert did not believe that plaintiff would commit a similar criminal offense.
¶ 9 Wyatt Haws testified that he had known plaintiff all of his life. Haws stated that he was an ordained minister and worked with Light of Fire Ministries. Haws said that since plaintiff's conviction, they spoke at least twice a week. He did not believe that plaintiff would commit another criminal offense, and he did not believe that plaintiff would be a danger to the public if granted a FOID card.
¶ 10 Gary Twardowski testified that he was a retired Illinois State Police trooper and detective. He stated that he became the "overall sex offender registration coordinator for La Salle, Bureau and Putnam Counties." In his opinion, there were "a lot of different types of crimes that would fall under the Sex Offender Registration Act." He said that "[n]ot all people convicted should be denied" a weapon. Twardowski said that he knew plaintiff's parents and had known plaintiff since 1996. He learned of plaintiff's ...