JUSTICE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.
Chief Justice Karmeier and Justices Kilbride, Garman, and The
is concurred in the judgment and opinion. Justice Freeman
dissented, with opinion, joined by Justice Burke.
1 Defendant, Matthew Smith, was charged by indictment with
aggravated battery of a corrections officer, a Class 2 felony
(720 ILCS 5/12-3.05(d)(4)(i), (h) (West 2010)). Following a
jury trial in the Livingston County circuit court, defendant
was found guilty. Defendant was sentenced as a Class X
offender to six years in the Department of Corrections. The
appellate court affirmed defendant's conviction but
vacated defendant's sentence and remanded for a new
sentencing hearing, holding that defendant was not eligible
for Class X sentencing. 2015 IL App (4th) 130453-U. This
court granted the State's petition for leave to appeal.
Ill. S.Ct. R. 315 (eff. Jan. 1, 2015).
3 The indictment against defendant was filed on January 20,
2012. The indictment alleged that on September 2, 2011,
defendant, in committing a battery, "knowingly made
physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with
Correctional Officer Jody Davis, in that the defendant threw
an unknown liquid substance on Jody Davis striking him about
the body, knowing Jody Davis to be a correctional institution
employee of the State of Illinois Department of Corrections,
who was engaged in the performance of his authorized
duties." On January 24, 2012, the State filed its notice
that defendant was eligible for mandatory Class X sentencing
pursuant to 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-95(b) (West 2010), should
defendant be convicted of the Class 2 felony of aggravated
4 In April 2012, following questioning and admonishment by
the court, defendant waived his right to counsel and elected
to proceed pro se. Defendant then filed several
motions, including a motion to suppress an incriminating
statement that he made to corrections officer Robert Snyder.
Following a hearing on August 22, 2012, the trial court
denied defendant's motion to suppress.
5 A jury trial was held on April 19, 2013, where defendant
continued to appear pro se. Although there are no
issues before this court concerning defendant's trial, we
will briefly set forth some of the trial testimony in order
to provide some background information.
6 Officer Jody Davis testified that on September 2, 2011, he
was in uniform working as a correctional officer at Pontiac
Correctional Center. Around 1:40 p.m. that day, Davis was
doing shower duty for his gallery. Davis explained that once
a week, the inmates in segregation are allowed to shower.
Davis would go down the gallery, take the prisoners out and
handcuff them, then take them to the showers. The doors of
the cells on the gallery are perforated. Defendant was housed
alone in cell 305 on the gallery. While Davis was talking
with the inmate in cell 304, next door to the defendant,
Davis was hit with a liquid substance all over the side of
his body. Davis testified that the liquid came from
defendant's cell. Davis could not tell what the substance
was. After being hit with the liquid, Davis informed his cell
house lieutenant, who directed Davis to go the health care
unit to be evaluated.
7 Robert Snyder also testified at defendant's trial that
he was a correctional officer at Pontiac Correctional Center
assigned to the Internal Affairs Unit. Officer Snyder
investigated the incident between Davis and defendant.
Officer Snyder interviewed defendant on September 9, 2011.
Officer Snyder asked defendant if he threw a liquid substance
on Davis. Defendant responded that he did. When Officer
Snyder asked why he threw the liquid, defendant said he did
it because Davis did not give defendant his weekly shower.
Defendant never identified the liquid substance. As noted, a
jury found defendant guilty.
8 Defendant then appealed, arguing that the trial court erred
by (1) improperly admonishing him regarding his waiver of
counsel, (2) denying his motion to suppress his confession,
and (3) sentencing him as a Class X offender. The appellate
court rejected defendant's claim that the trial
court's admonishments regarding waiver of counsel were
insufficient. 2015 IL App (4th) 130453-U, ¶ 32. The
appellate court also found that the trial court did not err
in denying defendant's motion to suppress his statements
to Officer Snyder. Id. ¶ 42. However, the
appellate court found that the trial court erred in
sentencing defendant as a Class X offender. Id.
¶ 44. The appellate court held that defendant was not
eligible for Class X sentencing because he was not 21 at the
time he was charged with the offense at issue. Id.
The appellate court therefore vacated defendant's
sentence and remanded the case for a new sentencing hearing.
9 The State now appeals the appellate court's finding
that the trial court erred in sentencing defendant as a Class
X offender. Defendant has requested cross-relief concerning
the trial court's order denying his motion to suppress.
11 We first address the issue raised in the State's
petition for leave to appeal: whether the appellate court
erred in vacating defendant's Class X sentence. Section
5-4.5-95(b) of the Unified Code of Corrections (Code), the
statute at issue, provides:
"(b) When a defendant, over the age of 21 years, is
convicted of a Class 1 or Class 2 felony, after having twice
been convicted in any state or federal court of an offense
that contains the same elements as an offense now (the date
the Class 1 or Class 2 felony was committed) classified in
Illinois as a Class 2 or greater Class felony and those
charges are separately brought and tried and arise out of
different series of acts, that defendant shall be sentenced
as a Class X offender. This subsection does not apply unless:
(1)the first felony was committed after February 1, 1978 (the
effective date of Public Act 80-1099);
(2)the second felony was committed after conviction on the
(3)the third felony was committed after conviction on the
second." 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-95(b) (West 2010).
12 The parties do not dispute that defendant had two prior
qualifying convictions, including an October 2007 conviction
for aggravated criminal sexual assault with a weapon, a Class
X felony, and a June 2010 conviction for bringing a weapon
into a penal institution, a Class 1 felony. The parties
disagree concerning when a defendant must reach the age of 21
in order to be eligible for mandatory Class X sentencing.
13 Defendant was born on September 24, 1991, so he was 19
years old at the time the offense at issue was committed, was
20 years old when he was indicted, and was 21 years old at
the time of trial and sentencing. The appellate court held
that the relevant time period for purposes of section
5-4.5-95(b) was defendant's age at the time he was
charged with the offense at issue. Accordingly, because
defendant in this case was 20 years old when he was indicted,
he was not eligible for mandatory Class X sentencing pursuant
to the statute.
14 The State argues that the appellate court erred in
vacating defendant's sentence, contending that the
relevant time period for purposes of the statute is a
defendant's age at the time he is convicted. Because
defendant was 21 years old when he was convicted, the trial
court properly sentenced defendant pursuant to section
15 Because this issue involves a question of statutory
interpretation, our review is de novo. People v.
Chenoweth, 2015 IL 116898, ¶ 20.
16 As the State observes, at the time defendant was convicted
and sentenced, the only decisions addressing when a defendant
must reach the age of 21 for purposes of section 5-4.5-95(b)
uniformly held that a defendant must be 21 at the time of
conviction. These decisions were all from the first district
of the appellate court.
17 In People v. Baaree, 315 Ill.App.3d 1049 (2000),
the defendant was 20 years old at the time of his arrest, and
at the time his guilty verdict was rendered, but had turned
21 years old by the time of his sentencing. The trial court
sentenced the defendant to mandatory Class X sentencing
pursuant to section 5-5-3(c)(8) of the Code (730 ILCS
5/5-5-3(c)(8) (West 1998) (now 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-95(b) (West
2010))). Baaree, 315 Ill.App.3d at 1050. On appeal,
the defendant argued that the term "convicted" in
the statute could be construed as referring to the time the
court determined his guilt rather than the time the sentence
18 The Baaree court held that a plain reading of the
statute indicated that a defendant's age at the time of
conviction is the deciding factor in determining whether the
mandatory Class X sentencing statute would apply.
Id. at 1050. The court then addressed what was meant
by the term "convicted, " noting that it could mean
the time sentenced is imposed or it could mean the time a
defendant is found guilty. Id. at 1052. The court
found the term "convicted" in section 5-5-3(c)(8)
was ambiguous and therefore adopted a construction favoring
the defendant, holding that the defendant was convicted for
purposes of section 5-5-3(c)(8) when he was adjudicated
guilty by the trial court. Id. at 1052-53.
19 Following Baaree, the appellate court in
People v. Williams, 358 Ill.App.3d 363 (2005),
addressed the defendant's claim that the Baaree
decision should be taken one step further to interpret
section 5-5-3(c)(8) as being triggered when the defendant is
over the age of 21 at the time the charged offense is
committed. The defendant in that case claimed that the
statute was ambiguous concerning whether the age requirement
pertained to when the accused became a "defendant"
or when the accused is "convicted." Id. at
20 The Williams court rejected that claim, holding
that Baaree resolved any ambiguity in section
5-5-3(c)(8) when it determined that "convicted"
referred to the adjudication of guilt and not to sentencing.
Id. at 366. The Williams court further
found that "the Baaree court also impliedly
resolved the issue that defendant" raised in the case
before it, when Baaree held that a defendant's
age at the time of conviction is the deciding factor in
determining whether the statute will apply. Id.
Therefore, the statute's reference to a defendant over
the age of 21 refers to the time at which a defendant is
convicted or adjudicated guilty and not to a time when the
offense was committed. Id.
21 In People v. Stokes, 392 Ill.App.3d 335 (2009),
the defendant again argued that section 5-5-3(c)(8) applied
only if a defendant is 21 or older at the time the offense is
committed. Citing Baaree and Williams, the
appellate court rejected that claim, holding that because the
defendant turned 21 prior to the start of his trial and,
thus, was 21 years old at the time he was convicted or
adjudicated guilty, the defendant was subject to the
mandatory Class X sentencing provisions of section
5-5-3(c)(8). Id. at 344.
22 While defendant's appeal in the instant case was
pending, the appellate court in People v. Douglas,
2014 IL App (4th) 120617, disagreed with the preceding cases
and held that a defendant's eligibility for Class X
sentencing pursuant to section 5-5-3(c)(8) depended upon his
age at the time he is charged, rather than his age at the
time of conviction. The Douglas court stated that
the defendant in Baaree did not make the same
argument as the defendants in Williams,
Stokes, and the case before it. Id. ¶
23. The defendant in Baaree had argued that the term
"convicted" in section 5-5-3(c)(8) could refer to
either the date he was found guilty or the date he was
sentenced. Id. ¶ 25. In contrast, the
defendants in Williams, Stokes, and
Douglas had argued that section 5-5-3(c)(8) did not
apply because they were under 21 when the offense at issue
was committed and charged. Id. ¶ 23. The
Douglas court held that because the Baaree
court did not address whether a defendant must be 21 years
old at the time he committed the offense or was charged with
the offense, the decisions in Baaree,
Williams, and Stokes were not persuasive
concerning the issue before it. Id. ¶ 26.
23 In its analysis, the Douglas court noted that the
definition of "defendant" in the Code is "a
person charged with an offense." Id. ¶ 28
(quoting 730 ILCS 5/5-1-7 (West 2008)). The court then
replaced the word "defendant" in the statute with
its definition, so that the statute would read: "
'When a [person charged with an offense], over the age of
21 years, is convicted ***.' " Id. ¶
29 (quoting 730 ILCS 5/5-5-3(c)(8) (West 2008)). According to
the court, when read in that manner, the key point in time
was no longer the date of conviction but rather the date the
individual is charged with an offense. Id. The court
concluded that the statute was ambiguous and held that the
rule of lenity required it to resolve any ambiguity in favor
of the accused. Id. ¶ 30. Interpreting the
statute in favor of the defendant would place the date for
determining a defendant's age for purposes of section
5-5-3(c)(8) as the date on which he was charged, not the date
on which he was convicted. Id.
24 In vacating defendant's sentence in this case, the
appellate court relied on the Douglas decision. 2015
IL App (4th) 130453-U, ¶ 25. The appellate court
acknowledged the decisions in Baaree,
Williams, and Stokes but was not persuaded
to depart from the reasoning in Douglas.
25 Following Douglas, the first district of the
appellate court again addressed whether a defendant must be
over the age of 21 when he commits or is charged with an
offense in order to be eligible for sentencing under section
5-4.5-95(b). People v. Brown, 2015 IL App (1st)
140508. The Brown court, with one justice
dissenting, acknowledged the conflict between the decisions
in Baaree, Williams, Stokes, and
Douglas and found the reasoning of Douglas
persuasive. Id. ¶ 13. Brown concluded
that the statute was ambiguous regarding whether a
defendant's age should be considered at the time an
offense is committed, at the time the offense is charged, or
at the time the defendant is convicted. Id. ¶
16. Therefore, the Brown court applied the rule of
lenity and interpreted the statute in favor of the defendant,
holding that because the defendant was under the age of 21
when he was charged with the offense at issue, he was
ineligible for Class X sentencing under section 5-4.5-95(b).
26 The dissent in Brown stated that the
determination at issue was at which time a defendant must be
over the age of 21, not the time at which an individual
becomes a defendant. Id. ¶ 22 (Lavin, J.,
dissenting). Adding the definition of "defendant"
into the statute, as the Douglas court did, was not
inappropriate but did not support the Douglas
court's reading of the statute. Id. ¶ 27.
The dissent noted:
"While a person must be charged with an offense in order
to be a defendant, it does not follow that a defendant ceases
to be a defendant the moment after he is charged. The
defendant before us, as well as the defendant in
Douglas, continued to be a defendant long after he
was charged. Even at sentencing, a defendant is a person who
has been charged with an offense. In short, the word
'defendant' does not identify the time of an event;
rather, it identifies a person's status. Additionally,
Douglas's reading of the statute would render
meaningless the word 'convicted.' In contrast,
reading the statute as a whole, as we must, the statute
clearly requires the defendant to be 21 years old when
convicted. If the legislature had intended the statute to
read, 'when a defendant over the age of 21 years, is
charged, ' the legislature very well could have
written the statute that way but it is not the appellate
court's place to rewrite it. Because the statute is not
ambiguous in the specific manner that defendant suggests, we
cannot misconstrue the statute in favor of the
accused." (Emphasis in original.) Id.
27 We find the Brown dissent to be well taken. It is
well settled that this court's primary objective in
construing a statute is to give effect to the intent of the
legislature. People v. Chenoweth, 2015 IL 116898,
¶ 21. The most reliable indicator of legislative intent
is the language of the statute, given its plain and ordinary
meaning. Id. A court must view the statute as a
whole, construing words and phrases in light of other
relevant statutory provisions and not in isolation.
Id. Each word, clause, and sentence of a statute
must be given a reasonable meaning, if possible, and should
not be rendered superfluous. Id. This court will not
depart from a statute's plain language by reading into it
exceptions, limitations, or conditions that the ...