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People v. Staple

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fourth District

December 20, 2016

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
LINCOLN STAPLE, Defendant-Appellee.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Vermilion County, No. 12-CF-74; the Hon. Thomas M. O'Shaughnessy, Judge, presiding.

         Reversed and remanded.

          David J. Robinson and Allison Paige Brooks (argued), of State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's Office, of counsel, for the People.

          Michael J. Pelletier, Jacqueline L. Bullard, and Daaron V. Kimmel (argued), of State Appellate Defender's Office, of Springfield, for appellee.

          Panel JUSTICE HOLDER WHITE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Turner and Harris concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          HOLDER WHITE JUSTICE.

         ¶ 1 In February 2012, the State charged defendant, Lincoln Staple, with two counts of aggravated driving under the influence (DUI)-Class 4 felonies-in Vermilion County case No. 12-CF-74. 625 ILCS 5/11-501(d)(1)(G), (I) (West 2010). In December 2015, defendant pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of DUI in Vermilion County case No. 12-DT-19, which arose out of the same set of circumstances as case No. 12-CF-74. That same month, defendant filed a motion to dismiss the felony charges in case No. 12-CF-74, alleging prosecution of the felony charges would place him in double jeopardy for the same offense. In January 2016, the trial court granted the motion to dismiss.

         ¶ 2 The State appeals, arguing the trial court erred by dismissing the felony charges on the basis of double jeopardy when the felony charges were pending at the time defendant pleaded guilty to the lesser-included misdemeanor offense. We reverse.

         ¶ 3 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 4 In February 2012, the State charged defendant by information with aggravated DUI with a revoked license (count I) (625 ILCS 5/11-501(d)(1)(G) (West 2010)) and aggravated DUI when defendant knew or should have known the vehicle was not covered by liability insurance (count II) (625 ILCS 5/11-501(d)(1)(I) (West 2010)). Defendant, released on bond, failed to appear for arraignment, and the trial court issued an arrest warrant. In December 2015, the arrest warrant was served when defendant was arrested on new traffic charges.

         ¶ 5 At the December 2015 arraignment, the trial court began with the felony charges in case No. 12-CF-74. Case No. 12-DT-19 arose out of the same set of circumstances as No. 12-CF-74 and involved a series of traffic tickets, including a Class A misdemeanor for DUI. The court set case No. 12-CF-74 for a preliminary hearing on December 31, 2015. The court then asked the prosecutor, "are you wanting these DUI tickets consolidated with the [f]elony, or do you want them to proceed separately?" The prosecutor elected to keep the cases separate.

         ¶ 6 On December 17, 2015, defendant pleaded guilty to misdemeanor DUI in case No. 12-DT-19. The trial court accepted the plea of guilty and sentenced defendant. On December 18, 2015, defendant filed a motion to dismiss case No. 12-CF-74, alleging prosecution would subject him to double jeopardy for the same offense following his guilty plea in case No. 12-DT-19. The State stipulated the felony charges in case No. 12-CF-74 arose from the same offense underlying the guilty plea in case No. 12-DT-19.

         ¶ 7 Defendant argued "[d]ouble jeopardy applies to a greater offense when there is a plea where jeopardy has attached to a lesser offense." Defendant further argued jeopardy attached to the lesser-included DUI charge when the trial court accepted defendant's plea. The State argued there was no mandatory joinder of offenses filed by uniform traffic citation with enhanced charges filed by information. The State argued this principle prevents a situation "where a [d]efendant can just come in and basically surreptitiously plead guilty *** in a DT case while the felony is pending" and escape the felony charges based on double jeopardy. Defendant distinguished the case law relied upon by the State by arguing those cases involved citations where the traffic ticket was not a lesser-included offense of the felony charge. Moreover, defendant argued statutory mandatory joinder was not at issue; rather, defendant argued jeopardy attached after the court accepted defendant's plea to the lesser-included misdemeanor offense, thereby barring the State from placing defendant "at jeopardy twice for the same act."

         ¶ 8 In January 2016, the trial court granted defendant's motion to dismiss. The court found the misdemeanor DUI charge was a lesser-included offense under the "same elements" test from Blockburger v. United States, 284 U.S. 299, 304 (1932), because "[t]here are no elements contained in the offense of misdemeanor [DUI] not contained in the felony [a]ggravated [DUI]." The court further found jeopardy had attached where the court accepted defendant's guilty plea and imposed sentence on the misdemeanor DUI charge. The court ruled, "To permit the felony charge to proceed here would now necessarily ...


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