Is the Extent to Which Seperate Sentences for Seperate Class X Offences May Be Served Consecutively Limited ?

In People v. Pullen, 192 Ill. 2d 36, 733 N.E.2d 1235, 248 Ill. Dec. 237 (2000), the defendant entered a negotiated plea of guilty to several burglaries, and he was sentenced as a Class X offender. Pullen, 192 Ill. 2d at 38-39. Pursuant to the plea agreement, the trial court imposed consecutive prison terms totaling 30 years. The defendant argued that the consecutive sentences violated a statute limiting the aggregate length of consecutive sentences to the sum of the maximum extended terms for his two most serious felonies (730 ILCS 5/5--8--4(c)(2) (West 1994)). The defendant argued that the two most serious felonies he committed were Class 2 felonies, which carried maximum extended terms of 14 years. Thus, the defendant contended that the aggregate sentence could not exceed 28 years. The State argued that because the defendant was sentenced as a Class X offender and the maximum extended term for a Class X felony was 60 years, the statute in question permitted consecutive sentences totaling 120 years. The Pullen court agreed with the defendant. Pullen, 192 Ill. 2d at 42-43. Defendant argues that Pullen stands for the proposition that "Class X sentencing eligibility under section 5--5--3(c)(8) will not trump a sentencing statute written in terms of the felonies committed." This argument overlooks a critical difference between the MSR statute at issue here and the consecutive sentencing provision considered in Pullen. The former specifies part of the sentence for a defendant's offense, while the latter delineates how separate sentences for separate crimes are served. "It is a settled rule in this state that sentences which run consecutively to each other are not transmuted thereby into a single sentence." People v. Wagener, 196 Ill. 2d 269, 286, 752 N.E.2d 430, 256 Ill. Dec. 550 (2001). As noted, the statutory mandate that defendant "shall be sentenced as a Class X offender" (730 ILCS 5--5--3(c)(8) (West 2006)) means that defendant shall receive a sentence that one convicted of a Class X felony would receive, i.e., a prison term ranging from 6 to 30 years followed by a 3-year term of MSR. Pullen is entirely consistent with this interpretation. The statute considered in Pullen does not specify what sentence a Class X offender receives. Rather, it merely limits the extent to which separate sentences for separate offenses may be served consecutively.