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People v. Miles

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Fourth Division

September 21, 2017

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
JACOB MILES, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 00 CR 22579 The Honorable Colleen Ann Hayland, Judge, presiding.

          JUSTICE GORDON delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Reyes concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          GORDON JUSTICE.

         ¶ 1 Defendant Jacob Miles was convicted after a jury trial of armed robbery and sentenced as a habitual criminal to natural life with the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC). This court affirmed his conviction and sentence on direct appeal. People v. Miles, No. 1-02-2880 (2003) (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23).

         ¶ 2 Defendant now appeals from the trial court's dismissal of his pro se petition filed pursuant to section 2-1401 of the Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/2-1401 (West 2012)). Defendant claims that his armed robbery conviction is void because he was charged with armed robbery with a firearm but convicted of armed robbery with a dangerous weapon. Defendant argues that he was not charged with armed robbery with a dangerous weapon and that these two types of armed robbery are mutually exclusive. For the following reasons, we affirm the trial court's dismissal of his section 2-1401 petition.

         ¶ 3 BACKGROUND

         ¶ 4 Since defendant raises a purely legal question on this appeal, we do not repeat here the underlying facts of his conviction and instead incorporate by reference our prior order where we already described the facts and the evidence at trial. See People v. Miles, No. 1-02-2880 (2003) (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23) (finding unpersuasive defendant's claim that the State failed to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt). We describe below the procedural history and the facts needed to decide the issues presented on this appeal.

         ¶ 5 Defendant was indicted for armed robbery. The charges stemmed from the armed robbery of a pizza delivery man on the night of August 16, 2000. Specifically, the indictment charged defendant with "knowingly [taking] United States currency from the person or presence of James Gilbert by the use of force *** [while] he carried on or about his person or was otherwise armed with a firearm, in violation of Chapter 720, Act 5, Section 18-2 of the Illinois Complied Statutes 1992, as amended."

         ¶ 6 Effective January 1, 2000, which was before both the offense and indictment at issue, the armed robbery statute was amended (1) to create separate subsections for armed robbery "with a dangerous weapon other than a firearm" and armed robbery "with a firearm" and (2) to add a 15-year sentencing enhancement for being "armed with a firearm." Pub. Act 91-404 (eff. Jan. 1, 2000) (amending 720 ILCS 5/18-2); People v. Walden, 199 Ill.2d 392, 396 n.1 (2002) (noting the effective date of the amendment). The amended statute provided, in relevant part, that:

"(a) A person commits armed robbery when he or she [commits robbery]; and
(1) he or she carries on or about his or her person or is otherwise armed with a dangerous weapon other than a firearm; or
(2) he or she carries on or about his or her person or is otherwise armed with a firearm[.]" 720 ILCS 5/18-2(a) (West 2002).

         The amended statute also provided for the following sentencing enhancement:

"Armed robbery in violation of subsection (a)(1) is a Class X felony. A violation of subsection (a)(2) is a Class X felony for which 15 years shall be added to the term of imprisonment imposed by the court." 720 ILCS 5/18-2(b) (West 2002).

         ¶ 7 Before trial, defendant's counsel moved to dismiss the indictment pursuant to the Illinois Supreme Court case of People v. Walden, 199 Ill.2d 392 (2002), [1] which was decided after defendant was indicted. In Walden, the supreme court held: "The 15-year enhancement for armed robbery while in possession of a firearm *** violates the proportionate penalties clause of the Illinois Constitution and is unenforceable." Walden, 199 Ill.2d at 397.

         ¶ 8 Defense counsel argued that the indictment charged defendant under the armed robbery statute "as amended" and therefore defendant had been charged under an unconstitutional subsection. While the indictment did not cite a specific subsection, it did charge defendant with committing the offense while "armed with a firearm." Defense counsel argued that Walden rendered the armed-robbery-while-armed-with-a-firearm provision unenforceable.

         ¶ 9 The trial court held that, since the Walden court had declared the amendment unconstitutional, the preexisting statute now applied and the earlier statute did not differentiate between dangerous weapons and firearms. The earlier statute provided in full:

"(a) A person commits armed robbery when he or she [commits robbery] while he or she carries on or about his or her person, or is otherwise ...

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