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IPBA Winter Law Update

15 Dec 2019 10:39 PM | Anonymous

IPBA Law Update - Winter 2019 Edition

Gamble v. United States, 139 S. Ct. 1960 (2019)
Prosecution for the same conduct by different governments is not barred by the Double Jeopardy Clause

The defendant pled guilty to violating Alabama’s felon-in-possession-of-a-firearm statute. Federal prosecutors then indicted him for the same act of possession under federal law. The defendant sought to dismiss the new charges, arguing that the federal indictment violated double jeopardy principles because it alleged “the same offence” for which he had already pled guilty. The United States Supreme Court disagreed. The Court explained that the Double Jeopardy Clause bars multiple prosecutions for the same “offence.” An “offence,” however, is not the same as “conduct.” Importantly, the term “offense” refers to the law broken rather than the act committed. Thus, under the “dual sovereignty” doctrine, if the state and federal governments each have a law prohibiting the same conduct, a defendant may be prosecuted by both governments because he has committed multiple “offences.” This bedrock principle has been understood since the birth of our nation, and the defendant’s argument to the contrary was not enough to overcome stare decisis.

People v. Johnson, 2019 IL 123318
The “limited authority” doctrine recognizes that the authority to enter a business open to the public does not extend to those who intend to commit crimes on the premises

The defendant was convicted of burglary after stealing multiple items of clothing from Walmart. He was sentenced as a Class X offender to eight years in prison. The defendant appealed his conviction, relying on the portion of the burglary statute that requires entry “without authority.” According to the defendant, he had authority to enter the store because he arrived during normal business hours and stayed in areas open to the public, and therefore he could not be convicted of burglary. The Illinois Supreme Court rejected this argument. Citing over 100 years of precedent, the court explained that entering a retail store with intent to commit a theft amounts to burglary. Although public establishments grant prospective customers authority to enter, that authority does not extend to those who intend to commit crimes on the premises. The court went on to repudiate the contention that the legislature intended for the retail theft statute to punish shoplifting exclusively, as the legislature could have found that those who enter with intent to steal are more culpable, and thus deserving of harsher punishment.

People v. Buffer, 2019 IL 122327
A prison sentence of more than 40 years imposed upon a juvenile offender is a de facto life sentence

In Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012), the United States Supreme Court held that the Eighth Amendment prohibits mandatory life sentences for juvenile offenders, reasoning that the compulsory nature of the sentence deprives the trial court of the opportunity to consider mitigating factors related to the offender’s youth. Relying on Miller, the defendant argued that his 50-year sentence for a murder that he committed when he was 16 years old was a de facto life sentence that likewise violated the constitution. The Illinois Supreme Court agreed and created a bright-line standard of 40 years. Specifically, the court held that a prison sentence of more than 40 years is a de facto life sentence because it fails to provide “some meaningful opportunity to obtain release based on demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation.” Because the defendant here was sentenced to 50 years in prison, and the trial court did not consider his youth in fashioning his sentence, the supreme court held that his sentence was a de facto life sentence that violated the Eighth Amendment.

People v. Frazier, 2019 IL App (1st) 172250
An expert witness may not testify about a defendant’s mental state at the time of an offense where the expert did not evaluate the defendant at the time of the offense or soon thereafter

The defendant, a military veteran who served two tours of duty in Iraq, was charged with attempt first degree murder and aggravated discharge of a firearm after he fired several gunshots at a vehicle. The defendant sought to introduce the testimony of several healthcare providers to establish his defense that at the time of the shooting, he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. The trial court granted the State’s motion to restrict the experts’ testimony, holding that the experts could testify about the diagnosis and how it affects behavior, but not about how it affected the defendant’s actions. The Illinois Appellate Court affirmed this ruling. Notably, the issue of the defendant’s state of mind at the time of an offense is a question to be determined by the trier of fact. Although an expert witness may testify as to the ultimate issue in a case, it is not proper for the expert to do so where he was not present to evaluate the defendant at the time of the offense or shortly thereafter. Such an opinion would usurp the role of the trier of fact.

People v. Bass, 2019 IL App (1st) 160640
The practice of arresting an individual based solely on an investigative alert violates the Illinois Constitution

The defendant was charged with criminal sexual assault after he allegedly molested the victim while she slept. In investigating the offense, detectives interviewed the victim and her boyfriend two days after the incident. Both individuals gave consistent accounts of what occurred and identified the defendant in a photo array. Based on these interviews, detectives put out an investigative alert for the defendant, which was a communication to all officers in the department that there was probable cause for his arrest. Detectives did not obtain an arrest warrant. Three weeks later, the defendant was arrested pursuant to the investigative alert and made several custodial statements. The defendant was later convicted, but on appeal, the Illinois Appellate Court held that this practice was improper. Acknowledging that the United States Constitution only requires probable cause to be supported by “oath or affirmation,” the court explained that the Illinois Constitution affords its citizens greater protections in that it requires probable cause to be supported by “affidavit.” The investigative alert system, which relies on unsworn evidence presented to police officers, does not satisfy the latter obligation. Accordingly, the appellate court quashed the arrest, found that the trial court’s failure to suppress the defendant’s statements was not harmless, and remanded for a new trial.

If you would like to submit a case for distribution in the next Law Update please email ASA Steven Lupa at slupa2@gmail.com 

Illinois Prosecutors Bar Association  |  P.O. Box 114  |  Wheaton, IL 60187  |  illinoispba@gmail.com

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