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The People of the State of Illinois v. Manuel Villafuerte-Medrano

December 19, 2012

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS,
PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
MANUEL VILLAFUERTE-MEDRANO, A/K/A OSCAR MEDRANO, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Boone County. No. 06-CF-192 Honorable John H. Young, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Hudson

JUSTICE HUDSON delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Zenoff and Birkett concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

¶ 1 Defendant, Manuel Villafuerte-Medrano, appeals his conviction of aggravated driving under the influence (aggravated DUI) (625 ILCS 5/11-501(d)(1)(G) (West 2006)), which was entered upon his plea of guilty. He argues that his conviction is void pursuant to double jeopardy principles because judgment had already been entered upon a bond forfeiture, and the Illinois Vehicle Code (625 ILCS 5/1-100 et seq. (West 2006)) provides that a bond forfeiture equates to a conviction of the underlying offense. However, defendant's failure to comply with Illinois Supreme Court Rule 604(d) (eff. July 1, 2006) requires us to dismiss this appeal without reaching the merits.

¶ 2 I. BACKGROUND

¶ 3 Defendant was charged by indictment on June 2, 2006, in case No. 06-CF-192 with two counts of aggravated DUI (625 ILCS 5/11-501(d)(1)(G) (West 2006)), in that he drove while under the influence of alcohol without possessing a valid license. The record is missing many orders but contains a court case search that explains the procedural background through case notes entered by court officials. According to the case notes, there were misdemeanor traffic citations issued for the same conduct in case Nos. 06-DT-129 and 06-TR-4060 through 06-TR-4062. The notes indicate that on September 13, 2006, defendant failed to appear in court; his attorney, Dennis Steeves, withdrew; the court ordered defendant's bond forfeited; an arrest warrant was issued; and the court set the matter for hearing on October 25, 2006. Defendant failed to appear on October 25, and the court finalized the bond forfeiture by entering judgment in favor of the State, listing case Nos. 06-DT-129 and 06-TR-4060 through 06-TR-4062.

¶ 4 On January 22, 2007, defendant was arrested pursuant to the arrest warrant issued in September 2006. Bail was set at $10,000. On January 23, defendant paid the bail bond amount. The bail bond lists case Nos. 06-CM-41, 06-CM- 42, 06-DT-14, 06-CF-192, 06-DT-129, and 06-TR-4060 through 06-TR-4064. Defendant was ordered to appear in court on February 14, 2007. After defendant failed to appear, the court ordered that defendant's bond was forfeited and issued an arrest warrant. Judgment was entered on the bond forfeiture on March 14 for the same case numbers.

¶ 5 Defendant was arrested again on May 27, 2008, on the warrant issued in February 2007. On that date, defendant paid the bail amount and a court date was set for June 13. Defendant appeared on June 13 without counsel. Defendant informed the court that he was hiring counsel. Three new cases were listed as pending against defendant: 07-CM-41 and 07-CM-42 (misdemeanor obstruction of justice and delivery of alcohol to a minor) and 07-DT-14 (misdemeanor DUI). On July 23, defendant failed to appear in court again. On July 25, the court entered an order forfeiting defendant's bond and issued an arrest warrant. On September 3, the bond forfeiture was finalized.

¶ 6 Defendant was arrested on January 3, 2011, pursuant to the arrest warrant issued in September 2008.*fn1 On March 4, 2011, defendant, through Assistant Public Defender Carie L. Poirier, moved to dismiss case Nos. 06-CF-192, 06-DT-129, and 06-TR-4060. According to the motion, the trial court ordered bond forfeiture finalization on October 25, 2006, and notified the Secretary of State of that judgment. Upon receipt of that judgment, defendant argued, he was "convicted" in case Nos. 06-DT-129 and 06-TR-4060. On June 2, 2006, the State filed a bill of indictment in case No. 06-CF-192, alleging the same conduct as in 06-DT-129, enhanced to a Class 4 felony. Defendant argued that this prosecution was barred pursuant to section 3-4 of the Criminal Code of 1961 (720 ILCS 5/3-4 (West 2010)) and double jeopardy provisions because judgment was entered on the bond forfeiture on October 25, 2006, for case Nos. 06-DT-129 and 06-TR-4060 through 06-TR-4062. The trial court denied the motion. The trial court stated that it did not believe that a bond forfeiture barred the continuation of the underlying case. Thus, it did not believe that the bond forfeiture was a final conviction on the pending cause.

¶ 7 Defendant moved to reconsider this denial on April 26, 2011, stating that the court had denied his motion on March 30 without hearing arguments. Defendant stated that the court considered two cases (People v. Smith, 345 Ill. App. 3d 179 (2004), and People v. Glowacki, 404 Ill. App. 3d 169 (2010)) when it determined that a bond forfeiture judgment was an "alternative" conviction that may be used to enhance a charge to a felony but was not a "final" conviction for the purposes of defendant's case. Defendant argued that the trial court was incorrect and that, if the State may rely upon a bond forfeiture to a defendant's detriment, he should be allowed to claim its protections. Therefore, he argued, the court erred in denying his motion to dismiss.

¶ 8 The trial court denied defendant's motion for reconsideration on May 18, 2011. On that date, defendant pleaded guilty to count II of the indictment in case No. 06-CF-192. Count I of that indictment was dismissed as well as the other charged offenses in case Nos. 06-DT-129 and 06-TR-4060 through 06-TR-4062. On July 11, 2011, defendant was sentenced on count II in case No. 06-CF-192 (aggravated DUI), a Class 4 felony, to 18 months' imprisonment. Defendant, without moving to withdraw his guilty plea or for reconsideration of his sentence, appealed on the basis that the court's entry of judgment on his plea was void.

¶ 9 II. ANALYSIS

¶ 10 On appeal, defendant argues that the judgment on the bond forfeiture entered on October 25, 2006, was the equivalent of a conviction of aggravated DUI under the Vehicle Code. Therefore, defendant argues, the subsequent DUI conviction entered upon his guilty plea violated double jeopardy protection and was thus a void judgment. Defendant argues that we should address the merits of his appeal despite his failure to move to withdraw his guilty plea, because his conviction is void for violating double jeopardy protection. Defendant argues that a void judgment may be attacked at any time. People v. Woolsey,278 Ill. App. 3d 708, 709 (1996). The State argues that no appeal may be taken from a judgment entered on a guilty plea unless the defendant, within 30 days of the date on which the sentence is imposed, files a motion to reconsider the sentence or withdraw the guilty plea pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 604(d) (eff. July 1, 2006). The State, while agreeing that a void judgment may be attacked at any time, argues that defendant's double jeopardy claim does not involve a void judgment, relying on People v. Dieterman, 243 Ill. App. 3d 838 (1993), for this proposition. We agree with the State.

ΒΆ 11 Void orders are orders entered by a court (1) without jurisdiction or (2) that exceeded its jurisdiction by entering an order beyond its inherent power. People v. Johnson, 327 Ill. App. 3d 252, 256 (2002). In People v. Davis, 156 Ill. 2d 149, 155 (1993), the defendant argued that his double jeopardy claim based on convictions of both a greater and a lesser included offense did not depend on the Post-Conviction Hearing Act (725 ILCS 5/122-1 et seq. (West 1992)) for its viability, because a conviction that violated double jeopardy constituted a void judgment.Our supreme court rejected this argument, stating that an order is void only when jurisdiction is lacking and that, by contrast, a voidable judgment is one entered erroneously by a court having jurisdiction. Davis, 156 Ill. 2d at 155. The court explained that "jurisdiction or power to render a particular judgment does not mean that the judgment rendered must be the one that should have been rendered, for the power to decide carries with it the power to decide wrong as well as to decide right." Id. at 156. Once a court has acquired jurisdiction, no subsequent error or irregularity will remove the jurisdiction; thus, a court cannot lose jurisdiction because it makes a mistake in determining either the facts, the law, or both. Id. A judgment is void only where a court has exceeded its jurisdiction. Id. Although the defendant in Davis, like defendant here, claimed that, because the constitution prohibits multiple convictions of the same offense, and the improper conviction thus exceeded constitutional authority, our supreme court stated that such a violation does not remove the court's jurisdiction to render the improper judgment. Id. at 157. Thus, ...


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