Appeal from Circuit Court of Adams County No. 97CF427 Honorable Mark A. Schuering, Judge Presiding.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Steigmann
In April 1998, the trial court placed defendant, Lelen L. Bonds, on probation after he pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver (less than one gram of a substance containing cocaine) (720 ILCS 570/401(d) (West Supp. 1997)). The State subsequently filed a petition to revoke defendant's probation, and defendant later admitted the petition's allegations. In December 1998, the court conducted a resentencing hearing and resentenced defendant to seven years in prison. After doing so, the court admonished defendant that he was required to file a motion to reconsider sentence within 30 days to preserve any sentencing issues he wished to raise on appeal.
In April 1999, defendant filed a motion for reduction of sentence accompanied by a "motion to file untimely." The trial court gave defendant an opportunity to file an amended motion, which he did. In July 1999, the court denied defendant's motions in his absence.
Defendant appeals, arguing that the trial court erred by denying his motion for reduction of sentence and motion to file untimely. We affirm.
In its October 1998 petition to revoke defendant's probation, the State alleged, in pertinent part, that defendant committed the offense of possession of cannabis (not more than 2.5 grams of a substance containing cannabis) on two separate dates in September 1998 (720 ILCS 550/4(a) (West 1998)). In November 1998, defendant admitted the allegations in the State's petition and the court set the matter for resentencing the following month.
At the December 28, 1998, resentencing hearing, the trial court considered the presentence report, heard testimony from defendant and arguments of counsel, and resentenced defendant to seven years in prison. The court then admonished defendant as follows:
"In terms of his appeal rights on the admission to the petition to revoke and now this new offense, I do have to tell you that you have a right to appeal. Prior to taking an appeal, you must file in the trial court, that is with the [c]circuit [c]lerk's [o]ffice, not my office, within 30 days of the date of your sentence. So that would be 30 days from today's date, you should file a written motion asking to have the trial court reconsider the sentence or to have the judgment vacated and for leave to withdraw your admission or plea setting forth the grounds for the motion. If the motion is allowed, the sentence would be modified or the admission, plea, sentence and judgment will be vacated and a trial date set on the charges to which the admission was made. Upon the request of the State, any charges that may have been dismissed as a part of the plea agreement, will be reinstated and also set for trial. If you are indigent, without enough money of your own, a copy of the transcript of the proceedings at the time of your admission or plea and sentence will be provided without cost to you and an attorney appointed to assist you in the preparation of the motion. You should understand that in any appeal taken from the judgment on admission or plea, any issue or claim of error not raised in the motion to reconsider the sentence or to vacate the judgment and withdraw your admission or plea, shall be deemed waived unless raised in this motion."
On April 14, 1999, defendant filed a motion for reduction of sentence, in which he wrote that the reason for his delay in filing was "because of the emotional state of mind he was in after the sentence was imposed upon him." The motion was verified, showing on its face that defendant signed it under oath on March 26, 1999. Accompanying defendant's motion for reduction of sentence was a motion to file untimely, which was a form motion, meaning that it was a preprinted motion containing various blank spots in some of its paragraphs.
On May 4, 1999, the trial court conducted a brief hearing on defendant's motions, noting that defendant was in the Department of Corrections, and only an assistant State's Attorney was present. The court stated that paragraphs two and three of defendant's "motion to file untimely" were blank and before the court could rule upon the motion, those paragraphs would need to be completed. Accordingly, the court granted defendant leave to file an amended, complete motion to file untimely.
Both orally at the hearing and in its written order, the trial court emphasized that it was not considering the motion for reduction of sentence at that time but only whether it "would even allow this to proceed." Defendant was given until June 4, 1999, to file any amended motions, with the case continued until June 15, 1999, for further proceedings.
On May 18, 1999, defendant filed an amended motion to file untimely, which now had the blanks in paragraphs two and three filled in. Those paragraphs, as amended, showed that on January 7, 1999, defendant was transferred from the Adams County jail to the Graham Correctional Center to begin his sentence, and that he remained there for 22 days for the purpose of orientation before being transferred to the Vandalia Correctional Center.
Because the trial court was involved in a jury trial, the court continued the previously allotted June 15 hearing on its own motion until July 6, 1999. On that date, the State appeared by an assistant State's Attorney, but defendant did not appear either personally or by counsel. The prosecutor stated her objection to defendant's motion ...