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People v. Clark

Supreme Court of Illinois

June 6, 2019

2019 IL 122891THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Appellant,
v.
ELIZABETH M. CLARK, Appellee.

          NEVILLE JUSTICE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Thomas, Kilbride, and Garman concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          NEVILLE JUSTICE.

         ¶ 1 Defendant, Elizabeth M. Clark, pled guilty to charges of burglary and unlawful use of a credit card and was released on bond pending the imposition of sentence. While awaiting sentencing, defendant was found guilty by the circuit court of violating section 31-6(a) of the Criminal Code of 2012 (Criminal Code) (720 ILCS 5/31-6(a) (West 2014)) for knowingly failing to report to the Whiteside County Jail, as required by her bail bond.

         ¶ 2 The appellate court found that defendant's failure to report did not constitute an escape because she was not in custody while on bond awaiting sentencing. 2017 IL App (3d) 140987, ¶ 11. The appellate court reversed the circuit court, and we granted the State's petition for leave to appeal (Ill. S.Ct. R. 315(a) (eff. Nov. 1, 2017)). For the reasons that follow, we reverse the judgment of the appellate court and affirm the judgment of the circuit court.

         ¶ 3 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 4 The record contains the following uncontested facts. On October 31, 2012, defendant, who has a history of alcohol and substance abuse, pled guilty in the circuit court of Whiteside County to one count each of burglary and unlawful use of a debit card. While awaiting sentencing, defendant was released on bond so she could seek and receive substance abuse treatment. Defendant was sentenced to 90 days in jail, with credit for time served, followed by a term of 30 months' probation. As conditions of her probation, defendant was ordered to satisfactorily complete substance abuse evaluation and treatment, refrain from possessing or consuming alcohol or other prohibited substances, submit to periodic urine tests, and pay certain fees and fines.

         ¶ 5 In January 2013, the State filed a petition alleging violation of probation. Defendant was taken into custody, and the court found that defendant violated the terms of her probation. In February 2013 she was released on a $50, 000 recognizance bond to receive treatment. On April 19, 2013, defendant's probation was revoked, and she was resentenced to 74 days in jail, time served, and a new probation term of 30 months.

         ¶ 6 In July 2013, the State filed another petition alleging violation of probation, and in September 2013, the court found that defendant violated the terms of her probation. In December 2013, defendant was taken into custody. On January 9, 2014, the circuit court released defendant on a temporary recognizance bond of $50, 000. The court released defendant into the custody of her father for transportation directly to the White Oaks treatment center for inpatient substance abuse treatment.

         ¶ 7 Defendant successfully completed inpatient treatment at White Oaks, and thereafter, on February 25, 2014, the circuit court entered an order modifying the conditions of her bond. Defendant's bond was modified to require her to directly enter into the Margaret Stutsman Lodge, which is a halfway house featuring an extended residential care program for persons recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. Defendant was allowed to leave the halfway house for purposes of employment, medical needs, and 12-step program meetings. The modified bond condition also required that upon her release or discharge from the lodge, "for whatever reason (including but not limited to withdrawal, discharge, or successful completion of treatment), the Defendant must immediately return to the custody of Whiteside County Jail using the most direct route of travel and without delay or departure therefrom."

         ¶ 8 On June 5, 2014, defendant left the halfway house but failed to report to the Whiteside County Jail. That same day, the State filed an application to increase defendant's bond, and the circuit court issued an arrest warrant. On June 17, 2014, at the close of a hearing, defendant's April 2013 sentence of probation was revoked, and she was resentenced on her original offenses. On the burglary conviction, defendant was sentenced to three years' imprisonment with 281 days' credit and two years of mandatory supervised release. On the debit card conviction, she was concurrently sentenced to one year of imprisonment with 281 days' credit and one year of mandatory supervised release.

         ¶ 9 On the day defendant failed to report to the county jail, the State also filed an information charging defendant with the offense of escape in violation of section 31-6(a) of the Criminal Code, which is divided into two independent clauses: one clause containing an escape from custody provision and the other clause containing a knowing failure to report provision. 720 ILCS 5/31-6(a) (West 2014). The State charged that "defendant, having been convicted of the felony offense of Burglary and Unlawful Use of Debit Card, knowingly failed to report to the Whiteside County Jail as required on June 6, 2014, in accordance with the terms and conditions of her Temporary Recognizance Bond." Defendant surrendered herself to the Whiteside County Jail on June 14, 2014.

         ¶ 10 The circuit court conducted a stipulated bench trial on September 23, 2014, in which the court accepted the above-recited stipulated facts. In the stipulation, defendant admitted that after she left the Margaret Stutsman Lodge she did not report directly to the county jail and acknowledged that the conditions of her bond required her to do so.

         ¶ 11 Seeking acquittal, defense counsel argued, inter alia, that because defendant was out on bond and was not serving a prison sentence at the time she failed to report to the county jail, this failure amounted to a violation of her bond, rather than an escape. Counsel asserted that escape is the unauthorized departure from custody and, since a defendant who is free on bond is not in custody, there is no custody from which to escape.

         ¶ 12 The prosecutor argued that the plain language of the knowing failure to report provision does not require that a defendant be "in custody." According to the prosecutor, a convicted felon who knowingly fails to report to a penal institution has committed the offense. The prosecutor further argued that, because both of those elements were satisfied in defendant's case, she was guilty of violating section 31-6(a) despite the fact that she had been released on bond.

         ¶ 13 The circuit court found defendant guilty of escape. In so doing, the court noted that defendant had been convicted of two felony charges and was awaiting sentencing for those convictions. Further, the court observed that the terms of her recognizance bond required her to return immediately to the Whiteside County Jail after her discharge from the halfway house. The circuit court determined that defendant's knowing failure to report to the county jail after leaving the halfway house constituted a violation of section 31-6(a). Accordingly, the court found that the State had satisfied its evidentiary burden, and the court convicted defendant of the offense of escape. After denying defendant's motion for a new trial, the circuit court sentenced defendant to 30 months' probation, to be served consecutively to the prison term she received for her original convictions of burglary and unlawful use of a debit card.

         ¶ 14 On direct review, the appellate court reversed defendant's conviction for escape. 2017 IL App (3d) 140987, ¶¶ 16-19. Relying on this court's holding in People v. Campa, 217 Ill.2d 243, 259 (2005), the appellate court determined that, in order for a convicted felon to commit the offense of escape, he or she must first be in custody. 2017 IL App (3d) 140987, ¶ 11. The appellate court drew a distinction between bail and custody and focused its analysis on whether defendant was in custody when she failed to report to the county jail after leaving the halfway house. The court stated that a "defendant released on bail or a recognizance bond is not considered to be in 'custody' per the Corrections Code." Id.

         ¶ 15 The appellate court determined that defendant was not in "custody" for purposes of the escape statute at the time she violated the terms of her bond by failing to report to the county jail after leaving the halfway house. The court observed that, during the time defendant was out on bail, she was no longer under the authority of the sheriff or the Illinois Department of Corrections but rather was under the authority of the circuit court. The appellate court also observed that there was no requirement that personnel from either the county jail or the circuit court transport her to the county jail. Id. ¶¶ 13-14. The appellate court held: "Because the State could not establish that [defendant] was in custody, a requirement inherent in the offense of escape, it could not prove she was guilty of escape beyond a reasonable doubt." Id. ¶ 16. The State appeals.

         ¶ 16 II. ANALYSIS

         ¶ 17 The issue presented in this case is whether the State is required to show that a convicted felon was in "custody" in order to prove that he or she violated the failure to report provision in the second clause of section 31-6(a) of the Criminal Code. 720 ILCS 5/31-6(a) (West 2014). Resolution of this issue involves statutory interpretation, which presents a question of law and is subject to de novo review. People v. Smith, 2016 IL 119659, ¶ 15. For the following reasons, we hold that the statute does not require the State to make such a showing.

         ¶ 18 The primary objective of statutory construction is to ascertain and give effect to the true intent of the legislature. All other canons and rules of statutory construction are subordinate to this cardinal principle. People v. Jamison, 229 Ill.2d 184, 188 (2008); People ex rel. Director of Corrections v. Booth, 215 Ill.2d 416, 423 (2005); People v. Botruff, 212 Ill.2d 166, 174 (2004); In re Detention of Lieberman, 201 Ill.2d 300, 307 (2002).

         ¶ 19 A. Plain Language

         ¶ 20 The most reliable indicator of legislative intent is the language of the statute, given its plain and ordinary meaning. A court must view the statute as a whole, construing words and phrases in light of other relevant statutory provisions and not in isolation. Each word, clause, and sentence of a statute must be given a reasonable meaning, if possible, and should not be rendered superfluous. The court may consider the reason for the law, the problems sought to be remedied, the purposes to be achieved, and the consequences of construing the statute one way or another. Also, a court presumes that the General Assembly did not intend absurdity, inconvenience, or injustice in enacting legislation. In re Appointment of Special Prosecutor, 2019 IL 122949, ¶ 23; People v. Brown, 2013 IL 114196, ¶ 36; Botruff, 212 Ill.2d at 174-75.

         ¶ 21 Section 31-6 of the Criminal Code provides in part as follows:

"§ 31-6. Escape; failure to report to a penal institution or to report for periodic imprisonment.
(a)A person convicted of a felony or charged with the commission of a felony, *** who intentionally escapes from any penal institution or from the custody of an employee of that institution commits a Class 2 felony; however, a person convicted of a felony *** who knowingly fails to report to a penal institution or to report for periodic imprisonment at any time or knowingly fails to return from furlough or from work and day release or who knowingly fails to abide by the terms of home confinement is guilty of a Class 3 felony.
(b) A person convicted of a misdemeanor or charged with the commission of a misdemeanor, *** who intentionally escapes from any penal institution or from the custody of an employee of that institution commits a Class A misdemeanor; however, a person convicted of a misdemeanor *** who knowingly fails to report to a penal institution or to report for periodic imprisonment at any time or knowingly fails to return from furlough or from work and day release or who knowingly fails to abide by the terms of home confinement is guilty of a Class B misdemeanor.
(b-1) A person in the custody of the Department of Human Services under the provisions of the Sexually Violent Persons Commitment Act under a detention order, commitment order, conditional release order, or other court order who intentionally escapes from any secure residential facility or from a Department employee or any of its agents commits a Class 2 felony.
(c) A person in the lawful custody of a peace officer for the alleged commission of a felony offense *** and who intentionally escapes from custody commits a Class 2 felony; however, a person in the lawful custody of a peace officer for the alleged commission of a misdemeanor offense *** who intentionally escapes from custody commits a Class A misdemeanor.
(c-5) A person in the lawful custody of a peace officer for an alleged violation of a term or condition of probation, conditional discharge, parole, aftercare release, or mandatory supervised release for a felony *** who intentionally escapes from custody is guilty of a Class 2 felony.
(c-6) A person in the lawful custody of a peace officer for an alleged violation of a term or condition of supervision, probation, or conditional discharge for a misdemeanor *** who intentionally escapes from custody is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.
(d)A person who violates this Section while armed with a dangerous weapon commits a Class 1 felony." 720 ILCS 5/31-6 (West 2014).

         ¶ 22 "The legislature has the power to declare and define conduct constituting a crime and to determine the nature and extent of punishment for it." People v. Simmons, 145 Ill.2d 264, 269 (1991); accord People v. Miller, 171 Ill.2d 330, 333 (1996) (observing that "the legislature has wide discretion in defining crimes and prescribing penalties for those crimes"). Here, it is clear from the plain language of section 31-6 that the legislature has forged a single offense of escape that can be committed in a number of ways. The several subsections of section 31-6 target distinct conduct and contain distinct elements. See, e.g., People v. Price, 221 Ill.2d 182, 189 (2006); People v. Graves, 207 Ill.2d 478, 484-85 (2003).

         ¶ 23 As earlier noted, section 31-6(a) is divided into two independent clauses separated by a semicolon, with the second clause beginning with the word "however." The first clause contains an escape from custody provision, and the second clause includes a knowing failure to report provision. The word "custody" appears only in the first provision, which involves escape from the custody of a penal institution or its employee. The word "custody" is absent from the failure to report provision. "When the legislature includes particular language in one section of a statute but omits it in another section of the same statute, courts presume that the legislature acted intentionally and purposely in the inclusion or exclusion [citations], and that the legislature intended different meanings and results [citations]." Chicago Teachers Union, Local No. 1 v. Board of Education of the City of Chicago, 2012 IL 112566, ¶ 24; see People v. Goossens, 2015 IL 118347, ¶ 12 ("It is well settled that when the legislature uses certain language in one instance of a statute and different language in another part, we assume different meanings were intended."); People v. Hudson, 228 Ill.2d 181, 193 (2008) (same). A court must not depart from a statute's plain language by reading into it exceptions, limitations, or conditions that the legislature did not express. People v. Witherspoon, 2019 IL 123092, ¶ 24; People v. Casas, 2017 IL 120797, ¶ 18; Vincent v. Alden-Park Strathmoor, Inc., 241 Ill.2d 495, 506 (2011).

         ¶ 24 Because the plain and unambiguous language of the knowing failure to report provision of section 31-6(a) does not contain a "custody" element, we will not presume that the legislature intended to include such an element therein. We will not assign the same meaning to these two provisions of section 31-6(a) or engraft the custody element of the escape from custody provision onto the failure to report provision. See, e.g., Cassidy v. China Vitamins, LLC, 2018 IL 122873, ¶¶ 21-22; People v. Smith, 2016 IL 119659, ¶¶ 29-30; In re Mary Ann P., 202 Ill.2d 393, 409 (2002).

         ¶ 25 In the case at bar, each of the two clauses of section 31-6(a), separated by a semicolon, targets distinct conduct and contains different elements. The first clause criminalizes the actual escape from the "custody" of a penal institution or its employee. The second clause includes a provision that criminalizes the knowing failure to report to a penal institution or for periodic imprisonment. Because the legislature used the word "custody" in the first clause of section 31-6(a) but did not use the word "custody" in the knowing failure to report provision of the second clause, we conclude that the legislature did not intend to require the State to prove that a convicted felon was in custody before it could establish that he or she violated the knowing failure to report provision of section 31-6(a).

         ¶ 26 The plain language of the knowing failure to report provision of the escape statute makes clear that the statute is violated when two elements are proved: (1) "[a] person is convicted of a felony," and (2) the person "knowingly fails to report to a penal institution or to report for periodic imprisonment." 720 ILCS 5/31-6(a) (West 2014). We hold that the State is only required to prove these elements.[1] Unless the language of a statute is ambiguous, a court should not resort to further aids of construction and must apply the statute as written. People v. Cherry, 2016 IL 118728, ¶ 13; LaSalle Bank National Ass'n v. Cypress Creek 1, LP, 242 Ill.2d 231, 237 (2011); Burrell v. Southern Truss, 176 Ill.2d 171, 174 (1997).

         ¶ 27 B. Legislative History

         ¶ 28 However, defendant argues that "a close look at how the legislature has amended [section 31-6(a)] over time shows that the intended target of either clause of [section 31-6(a)] are those individuals in custody." We disagree. Although the plain language of section 31-6(a) renders discussion of its legislative history unnecessary, the legislative history actually supports our construction.

         ¶ 29 Section 31-6 originally provided that an escape occurred only when (a) a person convicted of or charged with a felony intentionally escaped from the custody of any penal institution or its employee, (b) a person convicted of or charged with a misdemeanor intentionally escaped from the custody of any penal institution or its employee, or (c) a person in the lawful custody of a peace officer who intentionally escaped from custody. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1961, ch. 38, ¶ 31-6. Each subsection prescribed a specific penalty. Id. The 1970 revised Committee Comments to section 31-6 explain as follows:

"Section 31-6 combines in logical sequence, with appropriate penalties which are substantially the same as now provided, the unrelated provisions found in [section 2807 of chapter 23 on] escape and intent to escape from State Reformatory for Women, [section 121 of chapter 108 on] escape and attempt to escape from Illinois State Penitentiary, and [section 228b of chapter 38 on] escape and intent to escape from county jail. However, instead of relating the offense to the place of confinement only, section 31-6 uses the term 'penal institution' *** and then relates the penalty to the seriousness of the offense of which the escapee has been convicted or charged." 720 ILCS Ann. 5/31-6, Committee Comments-1970, at 419 (Smith-Hurd 2010).

         Section 31-6 remained substantially unchanged for many years. See Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 38, ¶ 31-6; Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, ¶ 31-6.

         ¶ 30 This court was required to construe section 31-6(a) as it then existed in People v. Simmons, 88 Ill.2d 270 (1981). Simmons was committed to the Illinois Department of Corrections for several felonies. He was transferred from prison to the Peoria Community Correctional Center. One day he was allowed six hours of "independent day release" to go shopping. A correctional center employee drove Simmons to a local shopping center and left him unaccompanied. Simmons was required to phone in periodically, and his brother was going to drive him back to the correctional center. Simmons never returned from his shopping trip, and he was eventually arrested in Davenport, Iowa. Id. at 271.

         ¶ 31 Simmons was convicted of escape in violation of section 31-6 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 38, ¶ 31-6(a)) as described above. Before this court, Simmons argued that he did not violate section 31-6 because he did not commit an" 'escape, '" which is prohibited, but rather only a" 'failure to return, '" which is not. He also argued that the correctional center was not a" 'penal institution'" within the meaning of the statute. Simmons, 88 Ill.2d at 272. This court rejected both arguments.

         ¶ 32 We held that defendant escaped from the custody of the correctional center. We attributed a broad meaning to the word "escape" consistent with its legal and ordinary usage. Id. at 273. We reasoned:

"The defendant was committed to the Department of Corrections and sent to the Peoria Community Correctional Center. However much the limits of his confinement were temporarily enlarged, or the restrictions on his conduct temporarily lessened, he was still legally in the custody of the Center, and had a legal duty to submit to that custody. When he exceeded the lawful limits of his liberty, whether by stepping across the invisible boundary around the shopping center or by standing still while the boundary, with the passage of time, shrank to the physical confines of the Peoria Community Correctional Center itself, he escaped from the Center." (Emphases added.) Id. at 273-74.

         This court also held that the correctional center was a "penal institution" within the meaning of section 31-6(a). Id. at 274-75.

         ¶ 33 This court revisited the issue of escape from a penal institution in two consolidated cases. People v. Marble, 91 Ill.2d 242 (1982). Defendant Marble was sentenced to imprisonment at the Cook County Jail with a provision for work release at the jail's work release center. He was allowed to leave the jail on work release but had to return by 8 p.m. One day he failed to return. Defendant Cole was sentenced to work release at the Peoria Community Correctional Center. One day he violated the conditions of his work release and failed to return. Each defendant was subsequently apprehended and found guilty of escape in violation of section 31-6(a) as it then existed. Id. at 245-46. Following the reasoning of Simmons, this court held that each defendant was sentenced to a penal institution and that "a failure to return from a temporary release may violate section 31-6(a)." Id. at 247.

         ¶ 34 Shortly after Simmons and Marble, the legislature amended section 31-6 to codify that the failure to return from furlough or from work and day release constitutes escape. People v. Campa, 217 Ill.2d 243, 258 (2005); Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 38, ¶ 31-6.

         ¶ 35 However, as amended in 1983, section 31-6(a) did not prohibit the knowing failure to report. Two years later, the legislature addressed this gap. Introduced as House Bill 332, Public Act 84-1083 (eff. Dec. 2, 1985) amended section 31-6(a) to add the failure to report provisions. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, ¶ 31-6. During the legislative debates, Representative Koehler observed that the statute permitted law enforcement officers to apprehend persons who failed to return from furlough. However, she explained: "But the law did not provide that that person who did not show up for the first time of periodic imprisonment, there was no mechanism whereby that individual could... could be charged with an offense for simply not showing up." (Emphasis added.) 84th Ill. Gen. Assem., House Proceedings, Mar. 13, 1985, at 32 (statements of Representative Koehler). Representative Cullerton likewise observed that if someone who was sentenced to periodic imprisonment "showed up the first day but didn't come back the second day, it would be an escape." 84th Ill. Gen. Assem., House Proceedings, Mar. 13, 1985, at 33 ...


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