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In re J'Lavon T.

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Sixth Division

June 15, 2018

In re J'Lavon T., a Minor,
v.
J'Lavon T., Respondent-Appellant. The People of the State of Illinois, Petitioner-Appellee,

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County No. 17 JD 363 Honorable Lana Charisse Johnson, Judge, Presiding.

          PRESIDING JUSTICE HOFFMAN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Connors and Delort concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          HOFFMAN PRESIDING JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 The respondent, J'Lavon T., appeals from the trial court's judgment adjudicating him a delinquent minor by reason of his commission of one count of armed robbery and the resulting sentence of 2 years' probation and 40 hours' community service.[1] The respondent argues that certain conditions of probation imposed by the trial court, including that he have "no gang contact" and not post "anything related to a gang" on social media, were improper because they lack exceptions for legitimate purposes. Additionally, he claims that the social media restriction violates due process because it does not adequately identify what conduct constitutes a violation of probation. For the reasons that follow, we affirm in part, vacate in part, and remand in part.

         ¶ 2 The State alleged in a petition for adjudication of wardship that the 15-year-old respondent committed one count each of theft from a person (720 ILCS 5/16-1 (West 2016)); robbery (720 ILCS 5/18-1 (West 2016)); aggravated robbery (720 ILCS 5/18-1(b) (West 2016)); armed robbery (720 ILCS 5/18-2(a)(2) (West 2016)); unlawful restraint (720 ILCS 5/10-3(a) (West 2016)); aggravated unlawful restraint (720 ILCS 5/10-3.1(a) (West 2016)); and battery (720 ILCS 5/12-3(a)(2) (West 2016)).

         ¶ 3 The matter proceeded to a bench trial, where the following evidence was adduced by the State. At approximately 10 a.m. on February 11, 2017, the victim, Jonathon Todd, met an acquaintance at a store in Chicago. The acquaintance led Todd to the basement of an abandoned building, where the respondent and two other individuals "grabbed" him. One of those individuals drew a gun and took Todd's cell phone, and the respondent "punched" Todd in the face. Todd contacted the police, identified the respondent at the police station, and also identified him in court. Based on this evidence, the trial court found the respondent delinquent as to the armed robbery count.[2]

         ¶ 4 The matter proceeded to a dispositional hearing, where the trial court received a social investigation report. According to the report, the respondent had "been to" the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center once but had not previously been subject to a warrant, arrest, station adjustment, or probation. He attended high school and had "some friends that are in a gang, " but denied that he belonged to a gang. The respondent's mother stated that their family lives in "a rough area with a lot crime and gangs, " and that he "got caught up" in the offense because of "hanging with the wrong people." She added that, during the offense, the respondent "was a follower and he should have kn[own] better, " and that "the biggest problem she [has] with [him] is making sure he does not hang with a negative crowd." She also stated that, during the year following the offense, "things have been about the same but [the respondent] needs to stay away from negative peers."

         ¶ 5 The trial court sentenced the respondent to 2 years' probation and 40 hours' community service. In setting forth the conditions of his probation, the judge stated:

"No gangs, guns or drugs; drugs includes [sic] marijuana and alcohol.
Gang[s], you can't post anything on social media related to gangs or any money that might have been attained. I don't [think] this is going to be a problem but I have [to] tell you that.
No illegally attained funds can be shown on Facebook or any social media and anything related to a gang, you can't do that on social media."

         The dispositional order form includes a checkmark next to the words "no gang contact or activity, " and a handwritten addition stating "no guns, no drugs." The probation order includes handwritten additions stating "no social media, " "no gangs, guns, or drugs, " and "no gang involvement." The trial court did not ask whether these probation conditions interfered with the respondent's family, school, or employment relationships, although the respondent signed the probation order, which states "[b]y signing, *** you are indicating that you have read and fully understand all of the conditions of your Probation." The respondent neither objected to the probation conditions at the dispositional hearing nor filed a post-adjudication motion. This appeal followed.

         ¶ 6 On appeal, the respondent first contends that the probation conditions imposed by the trial court, including that he have "no gang contact" and not post "anything related to a gang" on social media, constitute overbroad impairments on his right to freedom of speech and association under the first amendment of the United States Constitution (U.S. Const., amend. I). Specifically, he argues that the restrictions lack "commonsense exceptions" for "legitimate purposes, " such as contact with family members, classmates, or coworkers who might be gang members, and provide "no guidance" as to what kind of social media usage would violate the no-contact order. Because the respondent lives in an area with gang activity, he also maintains there is an "unreasonable risk" that he could violate the "blanket" restrictions unknowingly and unintentionally.

         ¶ 7 The State, in response, argues that the respondent forfeited his claim of error by not raising it in the trial court. On the merits, however, the State contends that the respondent's argument regarding his probation conditions amounts to an as-applied constitutional challenge, which fails because the record does not establish that his personal circumstances warrant any exceptions to the trial court's order. According to the State, there is no evidence establishing that anyone in the respondent's family or school belongs to a gang; in the trial court, he identified no legitimate reason for having contact with gang members or posting gang-related content on social media; and nothing in the record suggests that he was "confused" about the scope of the probation order or has been accused of violating his probation by ...


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