Supreme Court Summaries


Opinions filed October 4, 2012


 

 

In re S.B., 2012 IL 112204

 

Appellate citation: 408 Ill. App. 3d 516.

 

      JUSTICE BURKE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

      Chief Justice Kilbride and Justices Freeman, Thomas, Karmeier, and Theis concurred in the judgment and opinion.

      Justice Garman dissented, with opinion.

 

      This Peoria County case began in 2005 when this 14-year-old juvenile respondent and a four-year-old girl were playing a game in which both of them got undressed. Respondent was later charged as a juvenile with aggravated criminal sexual abuse. At a fitness hearing, evidence was presented that he suffered from mild mental retardation and that he functioned as if he were seven or eight years old, rather than as a pedophile. The circuit judge found him unfit to stand trial and set the matter for a “discharge” or “innocence only” hearing, at which the only final adjudication which could be entered was a judgment of acquittal. This provision is found in the Code of Criminal Procedure but not in the Juvenile Court Act. Under it, one who is unfit may be ordered held for treatment. The evidence was found sufficient to support the charge, and, thus, respondent was not acquitted but, rather, was found “not not guilty.” Thereafter, a period of evaluation began for him on an outpatient basis, but, at its conclusion, the court found that he was still unfit, although neither mentally ill nor a threat to public safety. On January 27, 2009, the court, at the request of the State, ordered him to register as a sex offender. He complained that he had never been adjudicated delinquent and that this is required by the sex-offender registration statute. The appellate court agreed and reversed, and the State appealed.

      The supreme court held that, although the Juvenile Court Act does not specifically provide for fitness hearings, juveniles should be protected, as a matter of constitutional law, by allowing the statute on “discharge” or “innocence only” hearings to be applied to them.

      Respondent still complained that he had not been adjudicated delinquent, as statutorily required for sex-offense registration, but the supreme court said he can still be required to register because that statute requires this after being charged, as he was here, with one of the applicable offenses, and after being “the subject of a finding not resulting in an acquittal,” following a discharge hearing. Thus, the supreme court’s action here in incorporating “discharge” or “innocence only” hearings into the Juvenile Court Act permits a court to order the registration as a sex offender which occurred here.

      However, the supreme court further construed the registration statute to allow such respondents to petition for registration termination, as it does not specifically do now, and further opined that this same approach should also apply to the Sex Offender Community Notification Act.