Quick Take on Illinois Supreme Court Opinion Issued Wednesday, Nov. 8
Kerry Bryson of the Office of the State Appellate Defender reviews the Illinois Supreme Court ruling in the criminal case In re Jarquan B.
In January 2015, the state filed a delinquency petition alleging that Jarquan B. committed the Class A misdemeanor offense of criminal trespass to a motor vehicle. The minor pled guilty and was sentenced to court supervision and a 30-day detention term that was stayed. Jarquan B. was advised that if he violated the terms of his supervision, he could be placed on probation or taking into custody on the stayed detention term. Due to subsequent violations, the minor was placed on electronic home monitoring and then ordered to serve time in juvenile detention.
In September 2015, the state filed a petition alleging Jarquan B. had again violated the terms of his supervision on multiple occasions after release from detention. The minor admitted the violations and was resentenced to six months of probation. He was admonished that if he violated probation, he could be sentenced to a term of detention. Almost immediately (i.e., on his way back to his residential placement facility), the minor fled from staff thereby violating his probation. Following his admission to the probation violation, the minor was resentenced to a term in the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) in April 2016.
The issue before the Illinois Supreme Court was whether a January 1, 2016 amendment to Section 5-710 of the Juvenile Court Act (the Act) (precluding commitment of a minor to the DJJ for a misdemeanor) precluded the DJJ commitment in this case.
Initially, the court had to address the issue of mootness because Jarquan B. had since served the terms of his sentence. Ultimately, the court applied the public interest exception to reach the merits of the issue.
On the merits, the court concluded that the amended statute did not prohibit committing Jarquan B. to DJJ for his misdemeanor offense in this case. The court relied upon the plain language of Section 5-720(4) of the Act, which states that upon a finding of probation violation, the court may “impose any other sentence that was available under section 5-710 at the time of the initial sentence.” Because DJJ commitment was an available disposition for the misdemeanor offense at the time Jarquan B. was originally sentenced in early-2015, it remained an available disposition despite the subsequent amendment prohibiting a term of commitment for a misdemeanor.
The court also rejected the minor’s argument that he had the right to elect sentencing under the amended statute, concluding that the right to elect sentencing under a more lenient statute does not apply to resentencing following revocation of probation.
Justice Thomas authored a special concurrence emphasizing his conclusion that Sections 5-710(1)(b) and 5-720(4) do not conflict and thus the majority was correct to engage in a plain language analysis to reach its conclusion. Justice Burke, on the other hand, authored a special concurrence concluding that the sections do conflict but that Section 5-720(4) controls because it is the more specific of the two.