People v. Boykins, 2017 IL 121365 (September). Episode 395 (Duration 9:31)
Defendant really thought the judge needed to spell out the MSR terms.
Defendant was admonished on his 3 years of MSR when he plead guilty to murder for 22 years.
On appeal he is saying the court failed to adequately admonish him regarding the statutorily required three-year term of MSR.
He maintains that although the court mentioned MSR when admonishing him about the possible range of penalties he could receive, the admonishments did not satisfy due process where the court did not “link” the admonishment about the MSR term with his actual agreed-upon sentence to clearly apprise defendant that MSR would apply to his bargained-for sentence.
He argues that an ordinary person in his circumstances would not understand that his sentence included the three-year MSR term.
Section 5-8-1(d)(1) of the Unified Code of Corrections (Code) requires that a sentence for first degree murder must include a three-year MSR term in addition to the term of imprisonment. 730 ILCS 5/5-8-1(d)(1) (West 2008).
Since the MSR term is statutorily mandated, it is not part of the plea bargain; the State cannot offer to exclude it as a part of a plea negotiation, and the court has no authority to withhold it in imposing sentence.
The requirement that a defendant be informed of the statutorily required MSR term arises from Illinois Supreme Court Rule 402(a)(2), which mandates that in hearings on pleas of guilty, the trial court must inform the defendant and determine that he understands “the minimum and maximum sentence prescribed by law.” Ill. S. Ct. R. 402(a)(2) (eff. July 1, 1997).
In Whitfield, this court explained that pursuant to Rule 402, “every defendant who enters a plea of guilty has a due process right to be properly and fully admonished.” People v. Whitfield, 217 Ill. 2d 177, 188 (2005).
Thus, before accepting a guilty plea, the trial court must substantially comply with Rule 402(a)(2). To substantially comply with Rule 402 and due process where a defendant enters into a negotiated plea for a specific sentence, the trial court must advise the defendant, prior to accepting his plea, that a term of MSR will be added to the sentence.
Therefore, where Whitfield had bargained for a specific sentence, and the trial court accepted his plea without advising him that an MSR term would be added to the sentence, we held that Whitfield essentially received a sentence that was more onerous than the sentence for which he bargained, which violated due process notions of fundamental fairness.
“Whitfield requires that defendants be advised that a term of MSR will be added to the actual sentence agreed upon in exchange for a guilty plea to the offense charged.”
“An admonition that uses the term ‘MSR’ without putting it in some relevant context cannot serve to advise the defendant of the consequences of his guilty plea and cannot aid the defendant in making an informed decision about his case.”
To ensure that defendants understand the consequences of their plea agreement and to avoid prolonged litigation on the issue, we strongly encouraged trial court judges to follow best practices in admonishments.
(1) The admonishment about MSR should be explicitly linked to the sentence to which defendant agreed in exchange for his negotiated plea
(2) be given when reviewing the provisions of the plea agreement, and
(3) be reiterated both at sentencing and in the written judgment.
Nevertheless, we recognized that “there is no precise formula in admonishing a defendant of his MSR obligation” and that the admonition must be read in a practical and realistic way.
Consequently, we held that to satisfy due process, the admonition is sufficient if an ordinary person in the circumstances of the accused would understand it to convey the required warning.
Here, he was advised that
“[u]pon your release from the penitentiary, there is a period of three years mandatory supervised release, sometimes referred to as parole.”
From this information, an ordinary person in defendant’s circumstances would understand that the penalty for the offense to which he was pleading guilty required a period of imprisonment in the range of at least 20 to 60 years and that any term he served in prison would be followed by a 3-year period of MSR.
Defendant does not dispute, and the record reflects, that he understood the concept of MSR or parole.
Where defendant was informed that MSR was a required part of any sentence that would be imposed upon his release from prison, a reasonable person would understand that his negotiated prison sentence would be followed by a term of MSR.
When read in a practical and realistic manner and judged by an objective standard, the record reveals that defendant’s due process rights were satisfied.
Additionally, as required by Rule 402, defendant was made aware that the minimum possible penalty for the offense to which he was pleading guilty was 20 years in prison plus a 3-year term of MSR, which is a total period of 23 years.
Thus, an ordinary person in defendant’s circumstances would understand that the minimum possible penalty was 23 years.
Therefore, defendant’s allegation—that his understanding was that the full extent of his penalty was 22 years—is contradicted by the record. Those cases that have found a violation of due process are cases in which the MSR admonitions did not convey unconditionally that an MSR term would follow those bargained-for sentences.
Morris established a bright-line rule that to satisfy due process the admonishments must expressly link MSR during the pronouncement of the agreed-upon sentence, we reject such a rigid interpretation as inconsistent with our decision in Morris. To the extent that the foregoing cases applied a bright-line rule requiring a link of MSR to the pronouncement of the agreed-upon sentence, we expressly overrule them.
We trust that going forward the trial court will seek to follow the guidelines set forth in Morris to avoid any potential for confusion in the future and to insulate the plea from subsequent attack. Additionally, we note that the Code now requires judges to include MSR in their written sentencing orders. 730 ILCS 5/5-8-1(d).
In sum, we hold that the summary dismissal of defendant’s postconviction petition was proper where the record refutes his claim that the trial court’s admonishment regarding the requisite statutory MSR term fell short of constitutional due process requirements.