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People v. Williams

DECEMBER 17, 1973.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

LESTER WILLIAMS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Kane County; the Hon. JOHN S. PETERSEN, Judge, presiding.

MR. PRESIDING JUSTICE GUILD DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

The defendant, Lester Williams, was indicted for the offenses of attempt armed robbery and rape. The trial court accepted the defendant's plea of guilty to rape, and sentenced the defendant to serve a term of 5-15 years in the Illinois State penitentiary. The sentence was to run concurrently with sentences then being served by the defendant.

The issues before the court are whether or not the defendant had been properly admonished according to Supreme Court Rule 402 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1971, ch. 110A, sec. 402), and whether or not the Unified Code of Corrections requires the summary modification of the defendant's sentence.

Defendant committed the offense of rape on February 18, 1972 at approximately 5:30 A.M. The defendant entered the victim's house while the victim was sleeping, put a knife to her neck, demanded money, and raped her. The four children of the victim were asleep in another room. He then left the house.

At the time of the commission of the offense the defendant was 23 years old, single, and an inmate of Stateville prison, but was participating in the work release program out of Lewis College in Joliet. He was employed in Aurora since going on the program in September, 1971. The record indicates he was serving three separate but concurrent sentences of 3-7 years for attempt burglary, burglary, and armed robbery.

• 1 Before accepting defendant's plea of guilty, the trial court informed the defendant of the minimum and maximum length of the sentence for rape, a class 1 felony, by stating:

"* * * The punishment could range anywhere from four years to infinity, which to me means the end of the world."

Citing People v. Terry (1969), 44 Ill.2d 38, 253 N.E.2d 383, the defendant contends that this statement by the court did not adequately inform him of the maximum sentence which could be imposed as required by Supreme Court Rule 402(a) (2). The defendant argues that the use of an ambiguous and confusing term such as "infinity" made the admonishment as to possible maximum sentence defective under the ruling of Terry. In Terry, the trial court only stated the maximum sentence that must be imposed "is an indeterminate sentence in the penitentiary." That is not the situation in the case before us. The trial court here gave both the possible minimum and maximum sentences in terms that an ordinary person in the circumstances of the accused could readily understand. Certainly, the trial court did not mislead the defendant into believing he would receive the minimum sentence or some similar sentence relating to the minimum of four years. People v. Gaines (1971), 48 Ill.2d 191, 268 N.E.2d 426; People v. Ehrler (1972), 8 Ill. App.3d 912, 290 N.E.2d 406; People v. Dugger (1972), 7 Ill. App.3d 235, 287 N.E.2d 307. Compare, People v. Huggins (1973), 11 Ill. App.3d 307, 296 N.E.2d 360.

Defendant further argues that the trial court failed to admonish him of his constitutional right against compulsory self-incrimination and his right to confront witnesses. Such failure, the defendant contends, violated due process of law under Boykin v. Alabama (1969), 395 U.S. 238, 23 L.Ed.2d 274, 89 S.Ct. 1709, and Illinois Supreme Court Rule 402. In Boykin the United States Supreme Court stated:

"Several federal constitutional rights are involved in a waiver that takes place when a plea of guilty is entered in a state criminal trial. First, is the privilege against compulsory self-incrimination guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment and applicable to the States by reason of the Fourteenth. [Citation.] Second, is the right to trial by jury. [Citation.] Third, is the right to confront one's accusers. [Citation.] We cannot presume a waiver of these three important federal rights from a silent record." 395 U.S. at 243, 23 L.Ed.2d at 279-280.

The court in Boykin, however, did not hold that the failure of the trial court to specifically admonish the defendant of these rights is a denial of due process and invalidates a guilty plea. The test for determining the validity of a guilty plea both before and after Boykin is whether or not the defendant voluntarily and intelligently entered his plea of guilty. In People v. Reeves (1971), 50 Ill.2d 28, 276 N.E.2d 318, the defendant entered a plea of guilty to involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to the penitentiary for a term of 2-6 years. The defendant therein contended under the ruling in Boykin that he was denied due process of law in the acceptance of his plea in that the trial court failed to admonish him that his plea of guilty waived his right to confront his accusers and his privilege against self-incrimination. That is exactly the situation presented in the case before us. The Illinois Supreme Court in Reeves at page 29 disposed of this contention, as we do, in the following statement:

"* * * Boykin does not in any manner alter or modify the constitutional standards by which the validity of a plea of guilty is to be determined. The constitutional requirement both pre and post Boykin, is that a plea of guilty be `intelligent and voluntary.' Boykin adds the requirement that if the guilty plea is to withstand appellate or post-conviction review `the record must affirmatively disclose that the defendant who pleads guilty enters his plea understandingly and voluntarily.' (Brady v. United States, 397 U.S. 742, 747 footnote (4), 25 L.Ed.2d 747, 756, 90 S.Ct. 1463, 1468.) This requirement has been in effect in Illinois since 1948. See former Rule No. 27A, 400 Ill. 22." See also People v. Arndt (1971), 49 Ill.2d 530, 276 N.E.2d 306.

With the intent to implement the requirement of the Boykin decision the Illinois Supreme Court adopted Rule 402. (See 50 Ill.2d R. 402, Committee Comments; People v. Anderson (1973), 10 Ill. App.3d 558, 294 N.E.2d 763.) Sub-paragraphs 402(a) (3) ...


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