Where a minor was adjudicated delinquent for underage consumption of alcohol and subsequently violated the conditions of her probation, the Juvenile Court Act controlled and did not permit commitment to the Department of Juvenile Justice.
Appeal from the Appellate Court for the Fourth District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Champaign County, the Hon. Harry E. Clem, Judge, presiding
Lisa Madigan, Attorney General, of Springfield, and Julia Rietz, State’s Attorney, of Urbana (Michael S. Scodro, Solicitor General, and Michael M. Glick and John R. Schleppenbach, Assistant Attorneys General, of Chicago, and Patrick Delfino, Robert J. Biderman and Anastacia R. Brooks, of the Office of the State’s Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor, of Springfield, of counsel), for the People.
Michael J. Pelletier, State Appellate Defender, Karen Munoz, Deputy Defender, and Jacqueline L. Bullard, Assistant Appellate Defender, of the Office of the State Appellate Defender, of Springfield, for appellee.
Chief Justice Kilbride and Justices Freeman, Thomas, Garman, Karmeier, and Burke concurred in the judgment and opinion.
¶ 1 The principal issue in this appeal is whether the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 (Act) (705 ILCS 405/1-1 et seq. (West 2010)) authorizes a trial court to commit a minor to the Department of Juvenile Justice (Department) when the minor, who was adjudicated delinquent for unlawful consumption of alcohol, violates the conditions of her probation. The appellate court held that the Act does not permit commitment to the Department and reversed the judgment of the trial court. 2012 IL App (4th) 110191.
¶ 2 For the reasons that follow, we affirm the judgment of the appellate court.
¶ 3 BACKGROUND
¶ 4 On December 30, 2009, in the Champaign County circuit court, the State filed a petition for adjudication of wardship with respect to respondent, Shelby R., then 14 years old. The petition alleged that on December 29, 2009, respondent committed the offenses of domestic battery (720 ILCS 5/12-3.2(a)(1), (2) (West 2010)), in that she punched a family member, and tore another family member's shirt; aggravated assault (720 ILCS 5/12-2(a)(1) (West 2010)), in that she waved a knife at her mother; and unlawful consumption of alcohol (235 ILCS 5/6-20(e) (West 2010)). Respondent was appointed counsel and entered a general denial to the charges. The trial court granted the State's motion to detain respondent pending further proceedings and ordered that respondent be detained at the Champaign County Youth Detention Center.
¶ 5 Trial on the State's petition was scheduled for February 1, 2010. On that date, the trial court was advised that respondent had been accepted into a residential substance abuse treatment program at Gateway Foundation in Carbondale. The trial court continued the case for status, putting the trial "on hold" until respondent completed treatment.
¶ 6 In April 2010, respondent left Gateway without completing the program. As a consequence, the following month respondent was again confined to the Champaign County Youth Detention Center, where she remained until June 7, 2010. On that date, respondent pled guilty to unlawful consumption of alcohol, a Class A misdemeanor (235 ILCS 5/6-20(f) (West 2010)), in exchange for dismissal of the domestic battery and aggravated assault charges. The State provided a factual basis for the charge, advising the court that on December 29, 2009, respondent admitted to a police officer that she had consumed alcohol, and that a breath test revealed a blood-alcohol content of 0.142. The trial court accepted the plea, adjudicated respondent a delinquent minor, and made her a ward of the court. On respondent's motion, the trial court released respondent from detention to the custody of her mother, pending sentencing.
¶ 7 On July 7, 2010, the trial court sentenced respondent to 18 months' probation. Among the conditions of her probation was that respondent refrain from consuming any alcoholic beverages or using illicit drugs. Respondent was also required to submit to random drug testing.
¶ 8 On September 8, 2010, the State filed a petition to revoke respondent's probation. The State alleged that on August 18, 2010, respondent submitted a urine sample that tested positive for the presence of marijuana and cocaine metabolites. Respondent subsequently admitted the probation violation. The trial court advised respondent of the possible consequences of that admission, including commitment to the Department for up to one year. The trial court revoked respondent's probation and, at a new sentencing hearing, committed respondent to the Department for an indeterminate term of 364 days, with a credit of 55 days for time spent in pretrial detention. Respondent was thereafter conveyed to the Department's facility in Warrenville.
¶ 9 Respondent filed a motion to reconsider her sentence, arguing that the Act prohibits commitment to the Department for unlawful consumption of alcohol. The trial court disagreed, and denied respondent's motion. Respondent challenged her sentence on appeal, and the appellate court reversed. 2012 IL App (4th) 110191.
¶ 10 The appellate court first recognized that because respondent had completed her sentence, the issue of its validity was moot. Id. ¶ 16. The appellate court, however, agreed with respondent that review was appropriate under the public interest exception to the mootness doctrine. Id. ¶ 17. On the merits, the appellate court held that the Act does not permit a minor to be sentenced to incarceration in the Department for unlawful consumption of alcohol. Id. ¶ 57.
¶ 11 We allowed the State's petition for leave to appeal. Ill. S.Ct. R. 315(a) (eff. Feb. 26, 2010).
¶ 12 ANALYSIS
¶ 13 The State argues that we need not consider the propriety of respondent's sentence because the case is moot and, contrary to the appellate court's judgment, the public interest exception to the mootness doctrine is inapplicable. Alternatively, the State argues that even if the public interest exception applies, the appellate court misconstrued the Act. According to the State, the trial court's order committing respondent to the Department was proper, pursuant to section 1-4.1 of the Act (705 ILCS 405/1-4.1 (West 2010)), because respondent violated a valid court order when she violated the terms of her probation. ...