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People v. Aguirre-Alarcon

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fourth District

August 3, 2016

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
CLEOFAS AGUIRRE-ALARCON, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from Circuit Court of McLean County No. 12CF795 Honorable Scott Daniel Drazewski, Judge Presiding.

          JUSTICE HOLDER WHITE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Knecht and Justice Steigmann concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          HOLDER WHITE JUSTICE.

         ¶ 1 In August 2012, the State charged defendant, Cleofas Aguirre-Alarcon, by information with aggravated domestic battery (count I) (720 ILCS 5/12-3.3(a-5) (West 2010)), domestic battery (count II) (720 ILCS 5/12-3.2(a)(2) (West 2010)), and interfering with the reporting of domestic violence (count III) (720 ILCS 5/12-3.5(a) (West 2010)). Following a grand jury indictment, a fourth count of unlawful restraint (720 ILCS 5/10-3 (West 2010)) was added.

         ¶ 2 In November 2013, following a bench trial, the trial court found defendant guilty of counts I through III but not guilty of count IV. In February 2014, the court sentenced defendant to 24 months' probation with 180 days' imprisonment. In its supplemental sentencing order, the court imposed a public-defender-reimbursement fee.

         ¶ 3 Defendant appeals, arguing the trial court erred by imposing a public-defender- reimbursement fee without notice or a hearing on his ability to pay. We vacate the court's order.

         ¶ 4 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 5 In November 2013, following a bench trial, the trial court found defendant guilty of aggravated domestic battery, domestic battery, and interfering with the reporting of domestic violence.

         ¶ 6 During defendant's February 2014 sentencing hearing, the State presented to the trial court a joint recommendation reached with defense counsel. Pursuant to the recommendation, defendant was to be sentenced to 24 months' probation and 180 days' imprisonment. The recommendation also required payment of mandatory fines and costs: a domestic-violence fine and a domestic-battery fine. Following defense counsel's confirmation of the accuracy of the assistant State's Attorney's representation, the trial court accepted the proposed sentence. During the recitation of the joint recommendation, no mention of a public-defender-reimbursement fee was made. In pronouncing defendant's sentence, the court failed to mention a public-defender-reimbursement fee. However, the supplemental sentencing order entered during the sentencing hearing assessed a $200 public-defender-reimbursement fee. Subsequent to his sentencing, defendant filed a motion to reconsider his sentence with no mention of the public-defender-reimbursement fee. 725 ILCS 5/113-3.1(a) (West 2010). In April 2014, the court entered a denial of the motion to reconsider.

         ¶ 7 This appeal followed.

         ¶ 8 II. ANALYSIS

         ¶ 9 On appeal, defendant argues the trial court erred in ordering him to pay the public-defender-reimbursement fee. In particular, defendant argues the court did not give him notice or hold a hearing to assess his ability to pay the fee, as was required by section 113-3.1(a) of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 (Code) (id.). The State concedes error but argues the court's inclusion of the public-defender-reimbursement fee in the supplemental sentencing order demonstrated the court's intent to impose the fee. Thus, the State asserts the proper remedy is to vacate the fee and remand for a hearing on defendant's ability to pay. Defendant takes the position that remand is not appropriate because the court failed to hold a hearing as required by statute. Whether the court properly imposed the public-defender-reimbursement fee is a question of law, which we review de novo. People v. Price, 375 Ill.App.3d 684, 697, 873 N.E.2d 453, 465 (2007).

         ¶ 10 The first issue we must address is whether the trial court erred in assessing the public-defender-reimbursement fee. If the court did err, we must determine if the fee is to be vacated with a remand for a proper hearing or vacated outright. Although defendant did not object to the public-defender-reimbursement fee at sentencing or include this issue in a posttrial motion, this court will consider this issue. Here, the statutory procedural safeguards contained within section 113-3.1(a) of the Code were not ...


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