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People ex rel. Hartrich v. 2010 Harley-Davidson

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fifth District

September 22, 2016

THE PEOPLE ex rel. MATTHEW HARTRICH, State's Attorney of Crawford County, Illinois, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
2010 HARLEY-DAVIDSON, Defendant Petra Henderson, Claimant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Crawford County. No. 14-MR-20 Honorable Christopher L. Weber, Judge, presiding.

          Attorney for Appellant Jon C. Anderson, Attorney at Law,

          Attorneys for Appellee Hon. Matthew Hartrich, State's Attorney, Crawford County Courthouse, 105 Douglas Street, Robinson, IL 62454; Patrick Delfino, Director, Stephen E. Norris, Deputy Director, Patrick D. Daly, Staff Attorney, Office of the State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor,

          JUSTICE CHAPMAN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Stewart and Cates concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          Hon. Melissa A. Chapman, J. Justices.

         ¶ 1 This appeal involves the application of the excessive fines clause of the eighth amendment in the context of our State's civil forfeiture provisions. The claimant, Petra Henderson, is the owner of a motorcycle valued at $35, 000. Her husband, Mark Henderson, was arrested while driving the motorcycle and charged with aggravated driving while intoxicated and driving while his license was revoked. At the time of Mark's arrest, Petra was a passenger on the motorcycle. She appeals an order of the trial court finding the motorcycle subject to forfeiture. At issue is (1) whether the court correctly determined that Petra consented to Mark's use of the motorcycle and (2) whether the forfeiture violated the excessive fines clause. We conclude that the evidence supports the court's finding that Mark used the motorcycle with Petra's consent. However, we find that the forfeiture violated the excessive fines clause, and we reverse on that basis.

         ¶ 2 Petra Henderson is the sole owner of a 2010 Harley-Davidson trike motorcycle. Her husband, Mark, does not have an ownership interest in the motorcycle. On the evening of April 25, 2014, Mark suggested to Petra that they go for a ride on the motorcycle. At the time, Mark's driver's license had been revoked due to a previous conviction for driving under the influence (DUI). Petra drove the motorcycle from the couple's home in Robinson, Illinois, to a tavern in Oblong, Illinois. She then drove to taverns in Lawrenceville and Palestine. Eventually, Petra drove to the Corner Place, which is located approximately 12 blocks from the Hendersons' home in Robinson. Petra did not drink any alcohol throughout the evening. Mark, however, had a lot to drink and was intoxicated by the time he and Petra left the Corner Place shortly after midnight.

         ¶ 3 Mark insisted on driving home from the Corner Place. According to both Mark and Petra, he jumped onto the motorcycle and told Petra that she could either ride home with him or walk home. She rode home with him. During the short drive home, Robinson police officer Dan Strauch activated his lights and siren to pull them over. Instead of stopping, Mark drove home and parked in the Hendersons' driveway. A breath test indicated that Mark's blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was 0.161. Officer Strauch placed Mark under arrest.

         ¶ 4 Mark was charged with aggravated DUI (625 ILCS 5/11-501(d) (West 2014)) and driving while his license was suspended or revoked (625 ILCS 5/6-303 (West 2014)). He subsequently pled guilty to the charge of aggravated DUI, and the State dismissed the charge of driving while license revoked.

         ¶ 5 The State subsequently filed a request for preliminary review to determine probable cause for forfeiture, a verified complaint for forfeiture, and an amended verified complaint for forfeiture. The State alleged that the motorcycle was used with the knowledge and consent of the owner in the offense of driving while license suspended or revoked and that it was subject to forfeiture because the revocation was due to a prior DUI conviction (625 ILCS 5/6-303(g) (West 2014)). In addition, the State alleged that the motorcycle was used with the knowledge and consent of the owner in the offense of aggravated DUI during a time in which the driver's license was revoked due to a prior DUI conviction (720 ILCS 5/36-1(a)(6)(A)(i) (West 2014)).

         ¶ 6 The matter came for a hearing on December 3, 2014. Officer Dan Strauch testified that he was on patrol in Robinson during the early morning hours of April 26, 2014. At approximately 12:30 a.m., he heard a motorcycle revving its engine in the parking lot of the Corner Place Tavern. He described the sound of the motorcycle as a "racing sound." He turned around and saw a black 2010 Harley-Davidson trike making a "very wide" right turn onto Cherry Street. Officer Strauch testified that the motorcycle then swerved, nearly hitting a telephone pole. At this point, he followed the motorcycle and activated his lights to initiate a stop. However, the motorcycle did not stop, so Officer Strauch also activated his siren. He testified that the motorcycle continued driving, weaving back and forth, for approximately 12 blocks. It then turned left, drove one more block, and pulled into a driveway.

         ¶ 7 Officer Strauch testified that Mark Henderson was driving the motorcycle and his wife, Petra, was a passenger. The officer further testified that Mark "had a strong odor of alcohol, " poor balance, and slurred speech. Officer Strauch arrested Mark for DUI and then spoke with Petra. Petra indicated that she was aware both that Mark was intoxicated and that his license had been revoked. She also told Officer Strauch that she told Mark to stop but he did not do so. Officer Strauch acknowledged that Petra did not specifically tell him that she gave Mark permission to drive the motorcycle.

         ¶ 8 After Officer Strauch testified, the State rested, and Petra moved for a directed verdict. She pointed to the officer's testimony that Petra told him "that she asked [Mark] to stop, [and] that he didn't do so." She argued that this testimony demonstrated that she did not consent to Mark's use of the motorcycle. The State argued in response that the testimony should be construed to mean that Petra told Mark to stop "in response to the police officer attempting to stop the vehicle." The court denied the motion.

         ¶ 9 Mark testified next. He first described the events leading up to his arrest. He testified that he called Petra at work to ask if she wanted to go for a ride on the motorcycle. Petra came home from work later than Mark, so Mark took the motorcycle out of the garage before she arrived home. He then put the key fob used to start the motorcycle in his pocket. He explained that the motorcycle did not require the use of a key to start; rather, it could be started if the key fob was within 8 to 10 feet of the motorcycle. Mark testified that he kept the fob in his pocket the entire evening. When asked why, he explained, "You just don't think about it. You put it in your pocket and go."

         ¶ 10 Mark was asked to describe the configuration of the seats on the motorcycle. He responded, "It's a two-seater, front and back, and with a trike, the passenger gets on first for comfortability [sic] of the driver getting on. If the driver would get on first, he would have to ...


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