People v. Brown, 2017 IL 121681 (November). Episode 436 (Duration 5:41)
Defendant plead guilty because he was told his sentence was a 50% case when in fact it was an 85% case.
Defendant took a plea because his attorney told him he would serve 50% of the time. It was an 85% case which added 6 years to his “in” time.
There is a split in the circuits as to whether this is a constitutional error that can be brought by a postconviction petition. The Illinois supreme court resolved the split in favor of the state.
Defendant alleges that he was prejudiced by his counsel’s failure to advise him correctly that he was required to serve 85% of his sentence. His allegation involves his understanding of the consequence of his guilty plea.
Clearly An Error
We agree with defendant that there is no objectively reasonable justification for counsel’s erroneous advice on this straightforward and readily verifiable sentencing information.
But a conclusory allegation that a defendant would not have pleaded guilty and would have demanded a trial is insufficient to establish prejudice” for purposes of the Strickland analysis. A court must consider the relevant surrounding circumstances to assess prejudice.
This is not recognized as structural error.
But to establish prejudice in the guilty-plea context, the defendant must show that there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel’s errors, he would not have pleaded guilty and would have insisted on going to trial.
Not all errors, however, are related to a defendant’s prospects of acquittal.
Some error touches on the defendant’s ability to understand the consequences of pleading guilty. Rather than asking how a hypothetical trial would have played out absent the error,
… a court should consider whether there was an adequate showing that the defendant, properly advised, would have opted to go to trial.
See Episode 272 – People v. Valdez, 2016 IL 119860 (petitioner must convince the court that a decision to reject the plea bargain would have been rational had counsel advised him accurately on the deportation consequences of pleading guilty).
When a defendant does not have a viable defense strategy or chance of acquittal, the decision whether to plead guilty also involves assessing the respective consequences of a conviction after trial and by plea.
Here, defendant’s allegation in his petition, standing alone, is insufficient to establish prejudice. In this case, because of the plea the state dropped a class X with a gun add an which put him in the 21 to 45 range. Because of his history he would have been on the upper end of that. By pleading guilty, however, defendant received only a single Class X felony conviction for armed habitual criminal with a mid-range sentence of 18 years’ imprisonment.
Based on these circumstances, we conclude that defendant has failed to establish the requisite showing of prejudice because he has not shown that a decision to reject his plea bargain would have been rational under the circumstances of his case.
Without the requisite substantial showing of a constitutional violation, defendant’s postconviction petition is not entitled to an evidentiary hearing.
His petition was properly dismissed without an evidentiary hearing.
People v. Hoare, 2018 IL App (2d) 160727 (January). Episode 474 (Duration 12:36) (Immigration Admonishments Can Still Get You In Trouble)