Extended-term sentencing laws, in which the state imposes high mandatory minimum sentences for repeat offenders and those whose crimes involve aggravating factors, are meant to discourage recidivism and punish egregious crimes more seriously. However, sometimes these sentencing policies instead impose unjust sentences for relatively mild offenses.
West Side Woman Sentenced
Recently, a West Side woman was sentenced to a year’s imprisonment after kicking a Cook County Sheriff’s deputy in the shins. The woman, a 49-year-old grandmother, was at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in 2013 for her son’s court appearance in a drug case. She became involved in a dispute with sheriff’s deputies when a deputy ordered her to move out of the way of jail inmates being led through the hallway.
Accounts vary as to what happened next. At her trial last year, one deputy testified that she, a sufferer of bipolar disorder, screamed obscenities at the deputies and refused to move from where she was standing. The woman was handcuffed and led to a booking area. She then refused deputies’ orders to sit down, and kicked the deputy in the shin. However, the deputy testified at trial that the kick did not hurt him and left no marks on his legs.
At the time of the incident, the woman had two prior felony convictions, one for armed robbery and home invasion in 1988, and a 1997 conviction for robbery. After kicking the deputy in 2013, she was charged with and convicted of aggravated battery to a police officer, which, under Illinois’s extended sentencing law, carried a mandatory six-year minimum prison sentence.
However, earlier in May, the judge threw out that earlier conviction and the woman pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of resisting a police officer. Her sentence was reduced to one year in jail.
Illinois’s Extended Sentencing Law
In Illinois, extended-term sentencing means that the court imposes extended prison terms on defendants if certain aggravating factors exist. In extended-term sentencing, a prison term may be lengthened beyond the normal statutory maximum for the crime for which the defendant has been found guilty.
The aggravating factors that trigger extended-term sentencing include, among others, the brutality of the offense, the victim’s age, that the offense is classified as a hate crime, the involvement of gang activity, and proximity to schools or places of worship.
The most common grounds used to impose extended-term sentencing on a defendant, however, is that the defendant committed the current felony offense after having been convicted of any felony of the same or greater felony class within the past ten years. The ten-year time period is exclusive of time spent incarcerated. For example, if a person was convicted of a Class 4 felony in 2010, and was subsequently convicted of a second Class 4 felony in 2016, extended-term sentencing would be imposed for the second felony.
Undergoing a criminal trial is a confusing enough process without the possibility of extended-term sentencing. A dedicated defense attorney can defend your rights and work for the best result possible. Please contact the knowledgeable Naperville criminal defense attorneys at Law Office of Glenn M. Sowa, LLC to schedule a consultation.