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Criminal Law FLASHPOINTS January 2024

Matthew R. Leisten, Ogle County State’s Attorney’s Office, Oregon
815-732-1170 | E-mail Matthew R. Leisten

Appellate Court Holds That Felony Resisting Peace Officer Causing Injury Can Be Forcible Felony for Pretrial Detainment

In People v. Rodriguez, 2023 IL App (3d) 230450, the Third District Appellate Court affirmed a trial’s court pretrial detainment of a defendant on the basis that his conduct in a felony “resisting or obstructing a peace officer causing injury” threatened great bodily harm and further held that the defendant’s conduct and outstanding warrants made him a flight risk.

In Rodriguez, the defendant was charged with felony resisting or obstructing a peace officer causing injury. The state filed a petition to detain him without pretrial release and argued that he was charged with a forcible felony and his release would pose a real and present threat to the safety of “any person, persons, or the community.” 2023 IL App (3d) 230450 at ¶3. The state further alleged that the defendant had a high likelihood of flight. The pretrial risk assessment showed that the defendant had two outstanding bench warrants in the past two years. Id.

The state’s proffer during the detention hearing stated that an officer conducted a traffic stop on the defendant’s vehicle for lane violations and having a suspended registration. A records check revealed that the defendant had outstanding warrants. The defendant refused to exit the vehicle after being ordered to do so by the officer. The officer was able to unlock the driver’s door, but his arm was still inside the vehicle when the defendant drove away. The officer suffered scrapes and bruises as a result of the defendant’s fleeing. 2023 IL App (3d) 230450 at ¶4.

The trial court found that that the proof was evident that the defendant committed the offense (resisting or obstructing a peace officer causing injury), that the offense involved the threat or infliction of great bodily harm, and that the defendant was a flight risk because of his previous failure-to-appear warrants from missing court. 2023 IL App (3d) 230450 at ¶6.

The appellate court affirmed and ruled that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in detaining the defendant. The defendant argued that the felony resisting a peace officer causing injury was not a detainable offense. However, the appellate court noted that although resisting a peace officer causing injury was not specifically delineated as a qualifying forcible felony offense for detainment under 725 ILCS 5/110-6.1(e), the statute provides that detainment can be granted on the basis that the defendant’s conduct involved “any other felony which involves the threat of or infliction of great bodily harm or permanent disability or disfigurement.” 2023 IL App (3d) 230450 at ¶9, quoting 725 ILCS 5/110-6.1(a)(1.5). The appellate court also found that because the state proved by clear and convincing evidence that the charge of resisting a peace officer causing injury was a detainable offense under the facts of the case, it could also be used as a predicate for finding that the defendant was a flight risk. 2023 IL App (3d) 230450 at ¶10.

The appellate court stated that the facts of the case showed that the defendant’s conduct involved the threat of great bodily harm and that the defendant contemplated the use of force and was willing to use force. Id.

The appellate court also found that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in finding that no conditions would ensure the defendant’s appearance in court because of his outstanding bench warrants. The appellate court also rejected the defendant’s argument that GPS monitoring should be imposed because GPS would not secure his appearance. 2023 IL App (3d) 230450 at ¶11.

The appellate court finally emphasized that the statute permits trial courts to determine whether there are any conditions to ensure the defendant’s appearance or the safety of others. Because the appellate court affirmed the defendant’s detainment on the basis that there were no conditions that would ensure his appearance, that negated any necessity to find there were no conditions to ensure the safety of others. 2023 IL App (3d) 230450 at ¶12.

For more information about criminal law, see ELEMENTS OF ILLINOIS LAW: CRIMINAL LAW (IICLE®, 2023). Online Library subscribers can view it for free by clicking here. If you don’t currently subscribe to the Online Library, visit www.iicle.com/subscriptions.

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