On September 19, 2013, the Illinois Supreme Court issued its opinion in the In re Shelby R. case1. The
following summarizes the facts and issue presented in the case and the findings of the Supreme Court.
The primary issue addressed by the Supreme Court. was whether the Illinois Juvenile Court Act of
1987 (hereinafter the “Act”), 704 ILCS 405/1-1 et seq., authorizes a trial court to sentence a juvenile to prison
for a violation of his probation sentence when the underlying offense is for unlawful consumption of alcohol by
No, a minor may not be sentenced to incarceration in the Illinois Department of Juvenile
Justice for the underlying offense of unlawful consumption of alcohol by a minor.
The case involved 14-year-old, Shelby R. (hereinafter the “Minor”), who was the subject of a petition
for the adjudication of wardship in December 2009 in Champaign County Circuit Court. The Minor was
charged with the offenses of domestic battery, aggravated assault and unlawful consumption of alcohol by a
minor pursuant to the Illinois Criminal Code. During the pendency of the juvenile court proceedings, the
Minor was detained at the Champaign County Youth Detention Center (hereinafter “Detention Center”). On
the February 1, 2010 trial date, the trial court was advised that the Minor had been accepted to a residential
substance abuse treatment program, Gateway Foundation, in Carbondale, Illinois. The trial was continued until
the Minor completed substance abuse treatment. In April 2010, the Minor left Gateway Foundation before
completion of the program and was returned to the Detention Center where she remained until June 7, 2010.
On that date, the Minor pled guilty only to the charge of unlawful consumption of alcohol by a minor, a Class
A misdemeanor.. The trial court adjudicated the Minor a delinquent and made her a ward of the court. The
Minor was released to the custody of her mother pending sentencing. On July 7, 2010, the Minor was
sentenced to 18 months probation, and as a condition of the probation, the Minor was to refrain from
consuming any alcoholic beverages or using illicit drugs, and to submit to random drug testing.
On August 18, 2010, the Minor submitted a urine sample that tested positive for the presence of
marijuana and cocaine metabolites. As a result, the State’s Attorney’s Office filed a petition to revoke the
Minor’s probation. The Minor admitted to the probation violation and the judge advised the Minor of the
possible consequences, including commitment to the Department for up to one year. At a sentencing hearing,
the Minor’s probation was revoked, and he was committed to the Department’s facility in Warrenville for an
indeterminate term of 364 days with a credit of 55 days for time spent in pretrial detention.
Thereafter, the Minor filed a motion to reconsider her sentence, arguing that the Act prohibits
commitment to the Department for unlawful consumption of alcohol by a minor. The trial court disagreed and
denied the motion. On appeal, the appellate court reversed, and though the Minor had already served the
See In re Shelby R., Case No. 114994, 2013 IL 114994, 2013 WL 5278442 (Ill. Sept. 19, 2013).
ALERT: IN RE SHELBY R.
TO: WCT Clients
FROM: Whitted, Cleary & Takiff, LLC
DATE: September 30, 2013
completion of her sentence, that court found that its determination was appropriate under the public interest
exception to the mootness doctrine. The appellate court held that the Act does not permit a minor to be
sentenced to incarceration in the Department for unlawful consumption of alcohol. The State then appealed to
the Illinois Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court addressed whether the trial court’s sentence of incarceration was consistent with
the language of the Illinois statute applicable to the sentencing of minors. Sentencing under delinquent minor
proceedings is controlled by the provisions of Section 5-710 of the Juvenile Court Act. See 705 ILCS 405/5-
710. After the Minor was adjudicated a delinquent minor for committing a Class A misdemeanor under the
Liquor Control Act of 1934, which forbids the consumption of alcohol by those under 21 years of age (see 235
ILCS 5/6-20(e)-(f)), she was sentenced to 18 months probation, a valid sentencing order under the Act. See
705 ILCS 405/5-710(1)(a)(i).
When the Minor’s probation was revoked due to an admitted violation of her probation, Section 5-
720 of the Act governs sentencing and states that upon the revocation of probation, the court may “impose
any other sentence that was available under Section 5-710 at the time of the initial sentence.” 705 ILCS 405/5-
720(4) (Emphasis added.) The Minor was sentenced to an indeterminate term of 364 days to the Department.
This is where the Supreme Court found an improper application of the sentencing provisions of the Juvenile
While commitment to the Department is a valid sentence under Section 5-710, “its availability is
limited.” Section 5-710(1)(b), states in relevant part, “[a] minor found to be guilty may be committed to the
Department of Juvenile Justice . . . provided that the commitment . . . shall be made only if a term of
incarceration is permitted by law for adults found guilty of the offense for which the minor was adjudicated
delinquent.” 705 ILCS 405/5-710(1)(b) (Emphasis added.) Further, “[i]n no event shall a guilty minor be
committed to the [Department] for a period of time in excess of that period for which an adult could be
committed for the same act.” 705 ILCS 405/5-710(7). Accordingly, since an “adult” (an individual 21 years of
age or older) could not be incarcerated for the unlawful consumption of alcohol by a minor as was the Minor,
incarceration and commitment to the Department was not an option. In response, the State argued that
incarceration was possible under Section 1-4.1 of the Act, since the Minor violated the court order when she
failed to meet the terms of her probation and incarceration was a valid sentencing order for a minor violating a
court order. The Supreme Court disagreed with the State’s interpretation of Section 1-4.1 of the Act, which
Except for minors accused of violation of an order of the court, any minor accused of
any act under federal or State law, or a municipal ordinance that would not be illegal
if committed by an adult, cannot be placed in a jail, municipal lockup, detention
center or secure correctional facility.
705 ILCS 405/1-4.1. The Court found that the State’s interpretation would create a new sentencing scheme
which would override the probation revocation provisions of the Act. The Court determined there is a
difference between being incarcerated after being accused of a violation of a court order and being sentenced
to a period of incarceration as a punishment for committing a probation violation. In conclusion, the Illinois
Supreme Court determined the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 does NOT authorize a court to commit a
delinquent minor to the Department of Juvenile Justice for unlawful consumption of alcohol by a minor.
S:General OfficeMemorandumsIn re Shelby R. (Ill. 2013) Alert (Final).docx