People v. Lucas, No. 3-05-0757.

CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois
Writing for the CourtLytton
Citation865 N.E.2d 420
Docket NumberNo. 3-05-0757.
Decision Date29 March 2007
PartiesThe PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Robert T. LUCAS, Defendant-Appellant.
865 N.E.2d 420
The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff-Appellee,
Robert T. LUCAS, Defendant-Appellant.
No. 3-05-0757.
Appellate Court of Illinois, Third District.
March 29, 2007.

[865 N.E.2d 422]

Fletcher P. Hamill (argued) (Court-appointed), Office of the State Appellate Defender, Ottawa, for Robert T. Lucas.

Lawrence M. Bauer, Deputy Director, Terry A. Mertel (argued), State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor, Ottawa, Patrick J. Herrmann, State's Attorney, Princeton, for the People.

Presiding Justice LYTTON delivered the opinion of the court:

Defendant Robert T. Lucas was found guilty of driving while his license was revoked (DWLR) (625 ILCS 5/6-303(a), (d) (West 2004)), unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon (720 ILCS 5/24-1.1(a) (West 2004)) and armed violence (720 ILCS 5/33A-2(a) (West 2004)). The trial court sentenced him to 30 years in prison. On appeal, defendant argues that his conviction for armed violence should be vacated because (1) a conviction for enhanced DWLR cannot serve as a predicate felony for armed violence and (2) if enhanced DWLR can be used as a predicate felony, it must be proven to the jury beyond a reasonable doubt. Defendant also claims that his sentence should be vacated because it is (1) unconstitutional, (2) an abuse of the court's discretion and (3) violates one-act, one-crime principles. We affirm.

Defendant was charged by information with DWLR, unlawful use of a weapon by a felon and armed violence. The indictment provided that defendant had a previous conviction for DWLR and that the prior revocation was based on a conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) (see 625 ILCS 5/11-501 (West 2004)). The indictment further alleged that defendant,

865 N.E.2d 423

while armed with a switchblade knife, committed the offense of driving while his license was revoked.

At trial, Officer Gary Becket testified that on May 1, 2005, he was on patrol near downtown De Pue. At approximately 12:30 a.m., he observed defendant's vehicle cross the center line two times. Becket initiated his emergency lights and attempted to stop defendant's vehicle. Defendant continued driving and pulled into the driveway of a residence. He then exited the vehicle and started running toward the house. Becket yelled at defendant to stop. Defendant ran around the side of the house and disappeared inside.

Becket called for backup before attempting to remove defendant from the house. When other officers arrived, they entered the home and ordered defendant to come out of a locked bathroom. The officers heard a toilet flush, and then defendant emerged from the bathroom. After defendant was handcuffed, he asked for his lighter. The officers searched the bathroom and found defendant's wallet, some cash, and a cigarette lighter in a pile on the sink. The lighter contained a spring-loaded switchblade knife. Both residents of the apartment testified that they had never seen the lighter before that night.

The State then introduced a certified record indicating that defendant's drivers' license was revoked on the date of his arrest. Following closing arguments, the jury returned a verdict of guilty on all three counts.

At sentencing, the trial court considered the presentencing investigation report. Defendant was forty-one and had been convicted of numerous offenses between 1981 and 1996, including carrying an uncased weapon, DUI, three felony convictions for possession of a controlled substance, resisting arrest, reckless driving, attempting to elude a police officer, leaving the scene of an accident, and theft. In 1997, defendant was charged with unlawful use of a weapon by a felon, aggravated battery of a peace officer, armed violence, DUI, reckless driving and aggravated fleeing from a police officer. Defendant was sentenced to a 12-year term and was released on parole in September 2002. In July of 2003, while still on parole, he was convicted of resisting a peace officer and domestic battery. He was returned to prison and was again released on parole in September of 2003. He was later found guilty of illegal transportation of alcohol and was on probation when he was arrested for this offense.

Becket testified that upon arrest, defendant was slurring his speech and appeared to be impaired. He blew 0.00 on a Breathalyzer test. He refused to take a urine test. He also had $1,279 in cash when he was arrested. Jail Officer Jeremy Roush testified that after defendant's arrest, defendant told him that if he could get close enough to State's Attorney Patrick Herrmann, he would snap Herrmann's neck.

Officer Smith testified regarding a 1997 incident that lead to defendant's conviction for aggravated battery of an officer. Smith had stopped defendant for a traffic violation. During the stop, defendant leaned forward. Smith saw a handgun tucked in the back of defendant's waistband. Smith attempted to grab the gun. Defendant leaned back, trapped Smith's arm, and proceeded to drive away with Smith attached to the car. Smith was drug several feet and then released. Defendant was captured 24 miles later. During the chase, officers believed defendant was shooting at them. After the chase, police found a loaded handgun and several bags of drugs in defendant's vehicle. They also found numerous bags of cocaine strewn along the chase route. Defendant was convicted of armed violence, aggravated

865 N.E.2d 424

battery of a police officer, unlawful use of a weapon by a felon, driving under the influence, aggravated fleeing and eluding, and reckless driving.

In mitigation, several letters were submitted by defendant's friends, family and church members. Defendant had obtained his GED and had a ten-year-old son. A local employer testified that defendant had done some work for him in the past and was able to complete the job as requested.

During arguments, the State presented a certified record which indicated that defendant's driver's license was revoked following a DUI conviction in 1983. Defendant was convicted of DWLR in 1987. His license was reinstated. It was again revoked in 1997 and was still revoked as of May 1, 2005.

The trial judge found that defendant had committed a Class 4 felony of DWLR. He sentenced defendant to concurrent terms of 30 years for armed violence and 5 years for unlawful use of a weapon by a felon.

I. Predicate Felony

Defendant contends that his conviction for armed violence must be vacated because a DWLR conviction, which has been increased to a Class 4 felony based on a prior conviction for DWLR, cannot be used as a predicate felony for an armed violence conviction. He claims that enhancement of DWLR from a misdemeanor to a felony is for sentencing purposes only and not as a predicate felony for an armed violence charge.

A person commits armed violence when, "while armed with a dangerous weapon, he commits any felony defined by Illinois Law, except first degree murder, attempted first degree murder, intentional homicide of an unborn child, predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, aggravated criminal sexual assault, aggravated kidnaping, aggravated battery of a child, home invasion, armed robbery, or aggravated vehicular hijacking." 720 ILCS 5/33A-2(a) (West 2004). In addition to those felonies that have been exempted by the legislature, the Illinois supreme court, under certain circumstances, has limited the type of felonies contemplated by the "any felony" language of the armed violence statute. For example, the offenses of voluntary and involuntary manslaughter cannot serve as predicate felonies for an armed violence conviction because the legislature did not intend for the statute to apply to conduct that is not a deliberate or deterrable offense. People v. Alejos, 97 Ill.2d 502, 74 Ill.Dec. 18, 455 N.E.2d 48 (1983); People v. Fernetti, 104 Ill.2d 19, 83 Ill.Dec. 375, 470 N.E.2d 501 (1984). However, if the decision to use a weapon is not forced upon a defendant or is not the result of a spontaneous decision, then the defendant's conduct can be deterred and the purpose of the armed violence statute is satisfied. People v. Becker, 315 Ill. App.3d 980, 248 Ill.Dec. 696, 734 N.E.2d 987 (2000).

Defendant's DWLR charge, which served as the predicate felony for the armed violence conviction, was for a violation of the Illinois Vehicle Code (Vehicle Code) (625 ILCS 5/1-101 et seq. (West 2004)). The purpose of the DWLR statute is to punish those people who drive a motor vehicle at a time when their license is suspended or revoked. The statute provides that "[a]ny person who drives or is in actual physical control of a motor vehicle on any highway of this State at a time when such person's driver's license permit * * * is revoked * * * shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor." 625 ILCS 5/6-303(a) (West 2002). The statute further states that "[a]ny person convicted of a second violation of this [s]ection shall be

865 N.E.2d 425

guilty of a Class 4 felony * * * if the revocation or suspension was for a violation of [s]ection 11-401 or 11-501 of this Code." 625 ILCS 5/6-303(d) (West 2004). Section 11-501 of the Code involves the offense of driving while under the influence of alcohol. See 625 ILCS 5/11-501 (West 2004).

The fundamental rule of statutory construction is to ascertain and give effect to the intention of the legislature. People v. Woodard, 175 Ill.2d 435, 222 Ill.Dec. 401, 677 N.E.2d 935 (1997). Since the language used by the legislature is the best indication of legislative intent, courts look first to the words of the statute. Nottage v. Jeka, 172 Ill.2d 386, 217 Ill.Dec. 298, 667 N.E.2d 91 (1996). When the language of the statute is plain and unambiguous, courts will not read in exceptions, limitations, or other conditions. People v. Daniels, 172 Ill.2d 154, 216 Ill.Dec. 664, 665 N.E.2d 1221 (1996).

Here, the plain language of section 6-303(a) and (d) of the Code states that any person convicted of a second violation of DWLR, when that person has...

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3 cases
  • People v. Lucas, 104558.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • October 17, 2008
    ...ILCS 5/33A-2(a) (West 2004)). The appellate court affirmed defendant's convictions and sentences. 372 Ill.App.3d 279, 310 Ill.Dec. 96, 865 N.E.2d 420. BACKGROUND Count I of the indictment, charging defendant with driving while license revoked, subsequent offense, alleged that on May 1, 2005......
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    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • March 29, 2007 a result of selling the pesos in very large quantities, as explained in In re Mexico Money Transfer Litigation, 267 F.3d at 749. 865 N.E.2d 420 CONCLUSION For the foregoing reasons, we affirm the judgment of the circuit Affirmed. NEVILLE and MURPHY, JJ., concur. ...
  • People v. Lucas, 104558.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • September 1, 2007
    ...657 PEOPLE v. ROBERT LUCAS. No. 104558. Supreme Court of Illinois. SEPTEMBER TERM, 2007. Appeal from 372 Ill.App.3d 279, 310 Ill.Dec. 96, 865 N.E.2d 420. Disposition of petition for leave to appeal....

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