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People v. Woods

FEBRUARY 8, 1974.

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

v.

GEORGE A. WOODS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Randolph County; the Hon. ALVIN H. MAEYS, JR., Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE CARTER DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

The defendant was charged with the offense of theft over $150. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced, pursuant to a plea agreement, to serve one to two and one-half years in the penitentiary.

The defendant asserts that the trial court failed to comply with Supreme Court Rule 402(a)(1) and (c) when it accepted the guilty plea.

• 1-3 Rule 402(a)(1) requires the court to determine that the defendant understands the nature of the charge. The court informed the defendant that he was charged with committing a theft in excess of $150, but the court did not read the information or further explain the alleged offense. The only other attempt to comply with subsection (a)(1) was the following:

"Court: First of all let me ask you this, what is your understanding in your own words what the nature of this particular charge is? What did you do wrong in other words?

Defendant: I got drunk one night and kidding my partner and said let's go to Sparta and joy ride and so we were all drinking and came to Sparta and he said this guy, we said we will get our own car, we don't have to ride in your car. I pushed the car out of the yard and he got in and I never got in the car. When the police came I woke up and I said what are we doing in jail and they said for auto theft.

Court: That auto you helped apprehend for you and your buddy you didn't own that car?

Defendant: No, sir.

Court: Show the Court states in the record that the defendant understands the nature of the charge * * *."

In People v. Ingeneri, 7 Ill. App.3d 809, 288 N.E.2d 550, this court, interpreting Rule 402(a)(1), stated that the trial court must inform the defendant of the essential elements of the crime charged. A necessary element of the crime of theft as charged in the indictment in the instant case is that the defendant had the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the stolen property. (Ill. Rev. Stat., ch. 38, sec. 16-1.) The trial court did not inform the defendant of that element of the crime or in any way ascertain that the defendant understood that element.

• 4 A copy of the criminal information was read to the defendant at an earlier proceeding, and the defendant stated that he understood the charge. That should not be determined to constitute compliance with subsection (a)(1), however, because the proceeding was more than four months before the defendant pleaded guilty. The defendant was not then represented by counsel and the judge who accepted the guilty plea was not the judge who had earlier read the information to the defendant.

• 5, 6 The record also indicates that the trial court failed to comply with Rule 402(c) which requires that the trial court determine that there is a factual basis for the guilty plea. The only relevant portions of the record are the defendant's admission that he was guilty and the defendant's statement previously cited.

The offense of theft is defined as:

"A person commits theft when he ...


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