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People v. Jones

Supreme Court of Illinois

October 20, 2016

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Appellee,
v.
DERRICK JONES, Appellant.

          FREEMAN JUSTICE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Thomas, Karmeier, and Theis concurred in the judgment and opinion. Justice Burke dissented, with opinion, joined by Chief Justice Garman and Justice Kilbride.

          OPINION

          FREEMAN JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 Defendant Derrick Jones was convicted of aggravated robbery in the circuit court of Will County and sentenced to an extended-term sentence of 24 years' imprisonment based on a prior juvenile adjudication of delinquency referenced in his presentence investigative report. Defendant appealed his sentence, contending that the use of his prior juvenile adjudication to enhance his sentence violated the rulings in Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000), and Shepard v. United States, 544 U.S. 13 (2005). The appellate court affirmed. 2015 IL App (3d) 130053. We allowed defendant's petition for leave to appeal pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rules 315 and 612 (Ill. S.Ct. R. 315 (eff. July 1, 2013); R. 612 (eff. Feb. 6, 2013)). For the following reasons, we affirm the judgment of the appellate court.

         ¶ 2 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 3 Defendant was charged by indictment with aggravated robbery, a Class 1 felony (720 ILCS 5/18-5 (West 2010) (repealed by Pub. Act 97-1108 (eff. Jan. 1, 2013))), as a result of an incident that occurred on January 6, 2012. Before defendant's jury trial began, the court asked the parties whether the sentencing range for the aggravated battery charge would be 4 to 30 years. The State agreed, as did defendant's counsel. Defendant's counsel stated that the State had tendered to her a "certified court docket from the '04 JD case" indicating that defendant, as a juvenile, had been adjudicated delinquent on multiple counts of residential burglary and that adjudication would make defendant eligible for an extended-term sentence in the present case, with a range of 4 to 30 years.[1] However, defendant's counsel also indicated that she spoke with defendant and defendant denied having an adjudication for residential burglary. The court admonished defendant that he faced a sentencing range of 4 to 30 years, and the case proceeded to trial.

         ¶ 4 At trial, the evidence presented was limited to the aggravated robbery charge. No evidence regarding defendant's prior juvenile adjudication was introduced. The jury found defendant guilty of aggravated robbery, and the case proceeded to sentencing.

         ¶ 5 A presentencing investigative report (PSI) indicated that defendant, as a juvenile, had been adjudicated delinquent in 2005 of multiple offenses in case number 04 JD 00276, including three counts of residential burglary. The PSI provided:

"On April 28, 2005, with the then minor, Derrick Jones, having been adjudicated delinquent in the original Petition alleging Assault, and the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Supplemental Petitions alleging: Burglary, Criminal Trespass to Land, Knowingly Damage to Property and Residential Burglary, three (3) Counts. Derrick Jones was sentenced to 5 years and 8 months Probation, until his 21st Birthday in the aforementioned offenses, with the first nine (9) months of Probation to be under the directive of Intensive Probation Supervision ***."

         After considering various factors in aggravation and mitigation, the court sentenced defendant to an extended-term sentence of 24 years' imprisonment. Defendant's motion to reconsider his sentence was subsequently denied.

         ¶ 6 On direct review, defendant did not challenge his conviction for aggravated robbery but did challenge his extended-term sentence. Defendant first argued that his extended-term sentence violated his sixth amendment right to a jury trial pursuant to the Supreme Court's ruling in Apprendi, because the fact of his juvenile adjudication was neither proven to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt nor alleged in the indictment. The appellate court rejected his contention, finding that a prior adjudication of delinquency was sufficiently analogous to a prior criminal conviction to fall under the prior-conviction exception in Apprendi. 2015 IL App (3d) 130053, ¶ 38. The court reasoned that because due process does not require the right to a jury trial in juvenile proceedings, the absence of a right to a jury trial does not undermine the reliability of a juvenile proceeding. Id. ¶ 37. It further stated that a juvenile adjudication "reached only where all constitutionally required procedural safeguards are in place, is a no less reliable basis for the enhancement of a sentence than is a standard adult criminal conviction." Id. ¶ 36. Defendant also argued in the alternative that the circuit court improperly relied upon the PSI in determining the fact of his prior juvenile adjudication in contravention of the Supreme Court's ruling in Shepard, contending that a PSI is "particularly unreliable" in determining the fact of a prior adjudication of delinquency, as opposed to a prior criminal conviction. The appellate court also rejected this contention, finding that information in a PSI may be used as the basis for sentence enhancement without running afoul of Shepard and that the PSI unequivocally indicated defendant had been adjudicated delinquent pursuant to a petition alleging three counts of residential burglary, a Class 1 felony. Id. ¶ 47. The appellate court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court of Will County. Id. ¶ 50.

         ¶ 7 We granted defendant's petition for leave to appeal (Ill. S.Ct. R. 315 (eff. July 1, 2013); R. 612 (eff. Feb. 6, 2013)) and affirm the judgment of the appellate court.

         ¶ 8 II. ANALYSIS

         ¶ 9 On appeal, defendant contends that a prior juvenile delinquency adjudication is not the equivalent of a prior conviction for purposes of extended-term sentencing under Apprendi and that such a fact must be alleged in the indictment and proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Alternatively, defendant contends that even if a prior adjudication of delinquency can qualify as a prior conviction for purposes of extended-term sentencing, the information contained in his PSI failed to conclusively establish that he had been adjudicated delinquent of residential burglary. Defendant acknowledges that he failed to preserve these issues for review but argues that an Apprendi violation may be reviewed as plain error where, as here, the violation was prejudicial to him.

         ¶ 10 It is well settled that the plain-error doctrine allows a reviewing court to consider unpreserved error when (1) a clear or obvious error occurred and the evidence is so closely balanced that the error alone threatened to tip the scales of justice against the defendant or (2) a clear or obvious error occurred and the error is so serious that it affected the fairness of the defendant's trial and the integrity of the judicial process, regardless of the closeness of the evidence. In re Jonathon C.B., 2011 IL 107750, ¶ 70; People v. Herron, 215 Ill.2d 167, 178-79 (2005). Our decision in Herron established two categories of plain error: prejudicial errors, which may have affected the outcome in a closely balanced case, and presumptively prejudicial errors, which must be remedied although they may not have affected the outcome. People v. Nitz, 219 Ill.2d 400, 415 (2006). In both instances, the burden of persuasion remains with the defendant. Herron, 215 Ill.2d at 187. We have held that potential Apprendi violations fall under the first category of prejudicial errors and have required defendants to prove that they were prejudiced by the error. Nitz, 219 Ill.2d at 415. In addressing a plain-error argument, we first consider whether error occurred. In re Jonathon C.B., 2011 IL 107750, ¶ 70. Review of this issue presents a question of law, which we review de novo. People v. Hopkins, 201 Ill.2d 26, 36 (2002).

         ¶ 11 A. Apprendi's Prior-Conviction Exception

         ¶ 12 We first consider defendant's argument based on Apprendi. As noted above, the offense of aggravated robbery is a Class 1 felony. 720 ILCS 5/18-5(b) (West 2010) (repealed by Pub. Act 97-1108 (eff. Jan. 1, 2013)). The standard sentencing range for a Class 1 felony is 4 to 15 years. 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-30(a) (West 2010). The extended-term sentencing range for a Class 1 felony is 15 to 30 years. Id. Section 5-5-3.2 of the Unified Code of Corrections (Code of Corrections) sets forth various factors that the court may consider as a reason to impose an extended-term sentence. 730 ILCS 5/5-5-3.2(b) (West 2010). Relevant here is the factor in subsection (b)(7) of section 5-5-3.2, which governs "[w]hen a defendant who was at least 17 years of age at the time of the commission of the offense is convicted of a felony and has been previously adjudicated a delinquent minor under the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 for an act that if committed by an adult would be a Class X or Class 1 felony when the conviction has occurred within 10 years after the previous adjudication, excluding time spent in custody." 730 ILCS 5/5-5-3.2(b)(7) (West 2010). The offense of residential burglary is a Class 1 felony. 720 ILCS 5/19-3(b) (West 2010). Based on the information in the PSI that defendant had been adjudicated delinquent of the offense of residential burglary, section 5-5-3.2(b)(7) of the Code of Corrections authorized the circuit court to impose an extended-term sentence. Therefore, we consider whether the manner in which the court imposed the sentence violated the rule set forth in Apprendi.

         ¶ 13 In Apprendi, the Supreme Court held that "[o]ther than the fact of a prior conviction, any fact that increases the penalty for a crime beyond the prescribed statutory maximum must be submitted to a jury, and proved beyond a reasonable doubt." Apprendi, 530 U.S. at 490. The Court found unconstitutional a New Jersey hate-crime statute that permitted an increase in the defendant's maximum prison sentence based on the trial judge's finding by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant had acted with purpose to intimidate the victim based on particular characteristics of the victim. Id. at 491. The court emphasized, "there is a vast difference between accepting the validity of a prior judgment of conviction entered in a proceeding in which the defendant had the right to a jury trial and the right to require the prosecutor to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and allowing the judge to find the required fact under a lesser standard of proof." Id. at 496.

         ¶ 14 In February 2001, our legislature amended section 111-3(c-5) of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 (Criminal Code) (Pub. Act 91-953 (eff. Feb. 23, 2001) (adding 725 ILCS 5/111-3(c-5))) in response to the decision in Apprendi. This amendment brought the Criminal Code into conformity with Apprendi, expressly incorporating the prior-conviction exception as well as the due process protections afforded to defendants when an extended-term sentence is sought. Section 111-3(c-5) of the Criminal Code provides in relevant part: "Notwithstanding any other provision of law, in all cases in which the imposition of the death penalty is not a possibility, if an alleged fact (other than the fact of a prior conviction) is not an element of an offense but is sought to be used to increase the range of penalties for the offense beyond the statutory maximum that could otherwise be imposed for the offense, the alleged fact must be included in the charging instrument or otherwise provided to the defendant through a written notification before trial, submitted to a trier of fact as an aggravating factor, and proved beyond a reasonable doubt." 725 ILCS 5/111-3(c-5) (West 2010).

         ¶ 15 The question here is whether defendant's juvenile adjudication, which qualified defendant for an extended-term sentence, falls within Apprendi's prior-conviction exception and, in turn, the exception in section 111-3(c-5) of the Criminal Code. This question is an issue of first impression before this court.

         ¶ 16 To fully understand Apprendi's holding, we must examine some of the cases that preceded it, namely Almendarez-Torres v. United States, 523 U.S. 224 (1998), and Jones v. United States, 526 U.S. 227 (1999). In Almendarez-Torres, the Court first recognized the prior-conviction exception. There, the defendant was charged pursuant to a federal statute with the offense of illegal reentry to the United States by a deported alien. The offense authorized a prison term of up to two years. A subsection of the statute authorized a prison term of up to 20 years if the defendant had been deported subsequent to a conviction for the commission of an aggravated felony. The question before the Court was whether the subsection of the statute defined a separate offense or simply authorized an enhanced penalty. Almendarez-Torres, 523 U.S. at 226. If the prior aggravated felony conviction was a separate offense, the State was required to charge the conviction in the indictment (and prove it beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury). Id. If the prior conviction merely authorized an enhanced sentence, then the prior conviction was not an element of the offense and need not be charged. Id. The Court concluded that the subsection was a penalty provision that authorized a court to increase the sentence for a recidivist but did not define a separate offense. Id. It reasoned that the relevant statutory subject matter at issue was recidivism, which was "as typical a sentencing factor as one might imagine." Id. at 230.

         ¶ 17 In Jones, the Court considered whether a federal carjacking statute defined three distinct offenses or a single offense with a choice of three maximum penalties, two of them dependent on sentencing factors "exempt from the requirements of charge and jury verdict." Jones, 526 U.S at 229. The statute's first subsection authorized a maximum sentence of 15 years. The second and third subsections authorized maximum sentences of 25 years and life imprisonment, respectively, if the carjacking resulted in serious bodily injury or death. The Court noted that the second and third subsections provided for "steeply" higher penalties and also conditioned these penalties on further facts. It stated that "[i]t is at best questionable whether the specification of facts sufficient to increase a penalty range by two-thirds, let alone from 15 years to life, was meant to carry none of the process safeguards that elements of an offense bring with them for a defendant's benefit." Id. at 233. It concluded that the statute defined three separate offenses with distinct elements, each of which must be charged by indictment, proven beyond a reasonable doubt, and submitted to a jury for its verdict. Id. at 252. In distinguishing its holding from Almendarez-Torres, the Court reiterated that it viewed recidivism differently from other factors that enlarge the possible penalty for an offense. The Court stated, "[o]ne basis for that possible constitutional distinctiveness is not hard to see: unlike virtually any other consideration used to enlarge the possible penalty for an offense, and certainly unlike the factor before us in this case, a prior conviction must itself have been established through procedures satisfying the fair notice, reasonable doubt, and jury trial guarantees." Id. at 249.

         ¶ 18 Since Apprendi was decided, state and federal courts have not been uniform in concluding whether a juvenile adjudication is the equivalent of a prior conviction under Apprendi for sentencing purposes. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals was the first court to address the issue in United States v. Tighe, 266 F.3d 1187 (9th Cir. 2001). In a split decision, the court determined that the prior-conviction exception must be limited to prior convictions that were themselves obtained through proceedings that included the right to a jury trial and proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Id. at 1194. It concluded that juvenile adjudications that do not include the right to a jury trial and the reasonable doubt burden of proof do not fall within the prior-conviction exception. Id. The court relied on the language in Apprendi that referred to accepting the validity of a prior judgment of conviction that was entered in a proceeding in which the defendant had the right to a jury trial and the right to require proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Id. It also relied on the language in Jones that prior convictions are distinct because they were established through procedures satisfying the fair notice, reasonable doubt, and jury trial guarantees. Id. at 1193. The court characterized these constitutional procedural safeguards as the "fundamental triumvirate of procedural protections." Id.

         ¶ 19 The dissent in Tighe found that the court had reached an "unsupportable conclusion" by taking the language in Jones and making a "quantum leap." Id. at 1200 (Brunetti, J., dissenting). The dissent believed that the language in Jones only stood for the basic proposition that Congress had the constitutional power to treat prior convictions as sentencing factors subject to a lesser standard of proof because the defendant presumably received all the process that was due when he was convicted of the prior crime. Id. It explained that, for adults, such process would include the right to a jury trial. For juveniles, however, such process would not include that right. Therefore, the dissent concluded that when a juvenile adjudication is the result of a proceeding in which ...


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