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People v. One 2005 Acura RSX

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fourth District

May 19, 2017

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
ONE 2005 ACURA RSX, Defendant Keith D. Osborn, Claimant-Appellee.

         Appeal from Circuit Court of McLean County No. 15MR546. Honorable Rebecca Simmons Foley, Judge Presiding.

          JUSTICE POPE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Steigmann and Knecht concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          POPE JUSTICE.

         ¶ 1 On July 17, 2015, the State filed a complaint for forfeiture against a 2005 Acura RSX, vehicle identification number JH4DC548X5S001012, owned by claimant, Keith D. Osborn. The State filed the complaint pursuant to section 36-1 of the Criminal Code of 2012 (Criminal Code) (720 ILCS 5/36-1 (West 2014)).

         ¶ 2 Following a hearing, the trial court found forfeiture of the vehicle would violate the excessive fines clause of the eighth amendment to the United States Constitution (U.S. Const., amend. VIII). Therefore, the court denied the State's complaint for forfeiture. The State appeals, and we affirm.

         ¶ 3 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 4 On July 17, 2015, the State filed its complaint for the forfeiture of claimant's vehicle. The complaint sought forfeiture solely on the basis of the vehicle having been used in the commission of the offense of possession of burglary tools (720 ILCS 5/19-2 (West 2014)) on June 22, 2015, and June 29, 2015. In an affidavit in support of forfeiture, Sergeant Robert Cherry of the Normal police department reported seizing claimant's vehicle on July 6, 2015. In an addendum to the affidavit in support of forfeiture, Sergeant Cherry stated claimant drove his vehicle to three car washes on June 23, 2015, where he "used a vending machine key to open the coin vault of the car wash machines." Upon questioning, claimant identified himself and his vehicle as captured on surveillance cameras at the car washes. Claimant granted permission for a Normal police officer to retrieve the vending machine key from his vehicle, and upon a search of the vehicle, the police officer found two vending machine keys. According to the addendum, the Normal police department arrested claimant and charged him with "Theft/Control/Intent [less than] $500, and Possession of Burglary Tools."

         ¶ 5 According to a docket entry, the trial court conducted a hearing on the complaint for forfeiture on April 29, 2016. The record on appeal does not include a transcript or bystander's report from the hearing. The court took the matter under advisement.

         ¶ 6 On May 16, 2016, the trial court issued a written order. The court stated it "heard the stipulation and arguments of counsel." According to the court, "[t]he parties stipulated that the subject vehicle, a 2005 Acura RSX, is subject to forfeiture under Article 36." The court identified the sole issue as "whether or not forfeiture would violate the excessive fines clause of the [eighth] [a]mendment to the United States Constitution."

         ¶ 7 According to the court's order, claimant "presented by proffer that the subject vehicle has a value to him of $17, 600, after putting in $10, 000 in parts and labor after purchase." The order further states that "[w]hile [claimant] was charged with the Class 4 felony of possession of burglary tools, he ultimately entered a guilty plea to the Class A misdemeanor offense of theft under $500."

         ¶ 8 The trial court then applied the "multifactor test" adopted by the Illinois Supreme Court in People ex rel. Waller v. 1989 Ford F350 Truck, 162 Ill.2d 78, 642 N.E.2d 460 (1994), to the excessive fine issue. First, the court examined the inherent gravity of the offense compared with the harshness of the penalty. The court found, "while charged with a Class 4 felony (which allows a discretionary fine of up to $25, 000), [claimant] pled guilty to the Class A misdemeanor of theft (of currency from an auto wash)." The court noted, "at the time of his arrest, [claimant] was found in possession of coin machine keys, while in the subject vehicle." Further, the court noted, "the only quantifiable loss was $.50-two quarters."

         ¶ 9 The trial court next examined whether the property was an integral part of the commission of the crime. The court noted, "[w]hile the vehicle may have been a means of transportation to and from the victim car wash *** it was not an integral part of the offense, unlike offenses that involve vehicles per se, i.e., driving under the influence, driving while license suspended or revoked, or other offenses where the vehicle is used during the commission of the crime itself, i.e., aggravated fleeing."

         ¶ 10 Finally, the trial court found, "based upon the information presented, the criminal activity was not extensive in terms of either time or spatial use, although the Court acknowledges that the investigation leading up to [claimant's] arrest was occurring in both Bloomington and Normal."

         ¶ 11 Noting its consideration of "all of the above" factors, the trial court concluded the forfeiture of [claimant's] vehicle violated the excessive fines clause and, therefore, ...


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