Quick Take on Illinois Supreme Court Opinion Issued Tuesday, Dec. 5
Kerry Bryson of the Office of the State Appellate Defender reviews the Illinois Supreme Court ruling in the criminal case People v. Casas.
In 1996, Fernando Casas, Jr., posted bond in a drug case and was released from custody. He regularly appeared at scheduled court dates until June 1998. His bond was forfeited and a bench warrant was issued. Casas was ultimately tried in absentia and a 20-year prison sentence was imposed.
In April 2014, a traffic stop revealed Casas’s outstanding warrant. Casas was taken into custody and began serving the 20-year sentence. Then, in December 2014, Casas was indicted for violating his bail bond. Casas moved to dismiss on the basis that the general three-year statute of limitations had expired in 2001 and the state had not alleged any facts to toll or extend the limitations period. The state then filed an amended information alleging that the bond violation was a continuing offense and the limitations period did not begin to run until Casas’s April 2014 arrest.
The circuit court dismissed, relying on People v. Grogan, 197 Ill. App. 3d 18 (1st Dist. 1990), which held that violation of bail bond is not a continuing offense. The state appealed, and the appellate court agreed with the state's assertion that Grogan was wrongly decided and concluded that it should no longer be followed.
In considering whether violation of bail bond is a continuing offense, the Illinois Supreme Court looked to the plain language of the bail bond violation statute, which indicates that violation of bail bond is committed on the 30th day after bond forfeiture. The statute does not state whether the violation is a continuing offense, however, so the court considered the nature of the offense to ascertain whether it was intended as such.
Analogizing a bail bond violation to the offense of escape, the court concluded that it is a continuing offense and overruled Grogan. The court also noted that the legislature treats both escapees and bail bond violators similarly with regard to trial in absentia and other procedures.
Despite the court’s finding, however, it concluded that defendant’s obligation to appear in court under the terms of the bond terminated with his conviction and sentencing, either in 1998 or 1999. The offense did not continue beyond that time. Thus, the three-year limitations period had expired long ago, even under the continuing-offense exception.
Below, the state had argued an additional exception to the limitations period — specifically, that Casas had used false identification to evade prosecution and thus was not “usually and publicly resident within this State” during the time in question. Because the appellate court had not addressed this contention, the court remanded for consideration of that question.