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In Re Chatman

OPINION FILED FEBRUARY 13, 1976.

IN RE ROBERT CHATMAN, A MINOR. — (THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PETITIONER-APPELLEE,

v.

ROBERT CHATMAN, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT.)



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. JAMES PIRAGINE, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE SULLIVAN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Respondent, a juvenile, appeals from an order committing him to the Department of Corrections, Juvenile Division, for robbery. *fn1 Through his counsel an admission was entered to the charge, and in this appeal he contends that he should be afforded the opportunity to plead anew for the reasons that (1) when the court accepted his admission, it failed to advise him of the maximum sentence prescribed by law as required by Supreme Court Rule 402(a)(2) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 110A, par. 402(a)(2)); and (2) the court lacked authority to sentence him, because it failed both to adjudge him a ward of the court and to consider the social investigation as required by law (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 37, par. 705-1). We agree with respondent that the court failed to properly admonish him of the consequences of his admission.

The record reflects that the court was informed that respondent and the two others charged with him wished to enter admissions to the charge of robbery. The trial judge then questioned them to establish their ages and to assure that they understood that they were waiving their right to a trial. An attempt was also made to determine whether they understood the alternative dispositions available, as appears from the following colloquy:

"Do each of you understand it is a delinquent Petition, and if you were found to be delinquent by the Court, the Court would have the power to remove you from your homes and place you in a State institution, or we might place you on probation or possibly on supervision, but one of those three things could happen as a result of what you did? Do you understand that?

THE RESPONDENTS: Yes.

THE COURT: All right. Then each of you still wishes to make an admission to what you did, robbery? Chatman first.

THE RESPONDENT CHATMAN: Yes, sir."

Respondent's admission was then accepted, a social investigation ordered, and the matter continued to a date when he was to appear on an unrelated burglary charge. At this burglary trial, held before another judge of the Juvenile Division, respondent's motion for a directed finding of not guilty was granted at the close of the evidence. The court then considered his previous admission to the robbery charge and, after hearing the report of the probation officer, determined that respondent had violated a prior parole and committed him to the Department of Correction, Juvenile Division, on the basis of that admission.

OPINION

The issue of whether a juvenile making an admission must be given the admonitions required in adult criminal proceedings when a guilty plea is entered presents a novel question in Illinois. Our research indicates that it has only been considered in one other State — California — where it was held that the juvenile must be so admonished. (In re M. (1970), 11 Cal.App.3d 741, 96 Cal.Rptr. 887.) Two separate though related issues are involved — (1) whether due process requires that a juvenile be informed of the possible duration of confinement to which he might be subjected; and (2) whether Supreme Court Rule 402 requires that a juvenile be admonished as to the maximum period of confinement provided by law.

Any analysis of the first issue must begin with In re Gault, 387 U.S. 1, 18 L.Ed.2d 527, 87 S.Ct. 1428, in which the United States Supreme Court held that a juvenile is entitled to the essentials of due process in any court proceeding which might result in his detention. Included among those essentials are the privilege against self-incrimination and the right of confrontation.

• 1, 2 Subsequent to Gault, due process has been held in Boykin v. Alabama, 395 U.S. 238, 23 L.Ed.2d 274, 89 S.Ct. 1709, to require that the court affirmatively acquaint the accused with "what the plea connotes and of its consequence" (395 U.S. 238, 244, 23 L.Ed.2d 274, 280) before a guilty plea may be accepted. The rationale for this holding is that, because a guilty plea "is more than a confession * * * it is itself a conviction" (395 U.S. 238, 242, 23 L.Ed.2d 274, 279), the waiver of certain constitutional rights is involved. Among these are the privilege against self-incrimination and the right of confrontation. Moreover, a waiver may not be presumed from a silent record because a guilty plea cannot be voluntary unless it is an intentional relinquishment of a known right. 395 U.S. 238, 243, 23 L.Ed.2d 274, 279-80.

If an admission in a juvenile proceeding is equivalent to a guilty plea, it is apparent from Boykin and Gault that due process requires that a juvenile be affirmatively acquainted with the consequences of his admission before it may be accepted by the court.

As noted in Boykin, a guilty plea is an admission of all the elements of a criminal charge and cannot be voluntary unless understandingly made. We believe the admission here has the same effect. ...


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