Appeal from Circuit Court of Coles County No. 08CF183 Honorable James R. Glenn, Judge Presiding.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Pope
4th District Appellate Court, IL
JUSTICE POPE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.
Presiding Justice Steigmann and Justice Turner concurred in the judgment and opinion.
¶ 1 Defendant, Macario Pena-Romero, appeals from the denial of his motion to withdraw his guilty plea. Defendant argues (1) he was denied effective assistance of guilty-plea counsel, (2) he was denied effective assistance of postplea counsel, (3) the circuit clerk lacked authority to assess the $5 anticrime fee, (4) he is entitled to credit against the $4.75 drug-court assessment, and (5) the $25 violent crime victims assistance (VCVA) assessment should be reduced to $4. We affirm in part as modified, vacate in part, and remand with directions.
¶ 3 On May 6, 2008, the State charged defendant with two counts of armed violence (720 ILCS 5/33A-2(a) (West 2008)). The trial court appointed a public defender to represent defendant.
¶ 4 On February 17, 2009, the State charged defendant with one count of attempt (first degree murder) (720 ILCS 5/8-4(a), 9-1 (West 2008)). Defendant pleaded guilty in exchange for dismissal of the two armed violence charges and a sentencing cap of 20 years. An interpreter was present in the courtroom. The trial court admonished defendant that if he was not a citizen of the United States, the conviction could result in deportation, exclusion from admission to the United States, or denial of naturalization. See 725 ILCS 5/113-8 (West 2008). The State's factual basis indicated police officers went to a residence in Coles County to speak with Maria De La Cruz (Maria), who was holding a towel to her neck as it was bleeding. She told the officers that defendant argued with her, grabbed her from behind, and asked her if she knew what the children would do if both of them died that night. Defendant held a knife to her throat. Maria struggled with defendant and ran from the home. She was taken by ambulance to a hospital and treated.
¶ 5 The police officers found defendant at home, having cut himself. An officer heard defendant say that his wife had to be punished. The trial court found defendant knowingly and voluntarily pleaded guilty to the charge.
¶ 6 On May 1, 2009, the trial court sentenced defendant to 15 years in prison with credit for 360 days previously served.
¶ 7 On May 29, 2009, defendant filed a pro se motion for reduction of his sentence and a motion to withdraw his guilty plea and vacate the sentence. On June 1, 2009, the trial court appointed new counsel to represent defendant. On May 18, 2010, postplea counsel filed an amended motion to withdraw the guilty plea and vacate the sentence or reduce the sentence. In that motion, defendant alleged (1) he had a limited understanding of English, (2) guilty-plea counsel was ineffective for failing to consult with him with an interpreter present, (3) he did not understand the presentence investigation report (PSI), (4) he did not understand the court's admonition concerning the immigration consequences of his guilty plea, and (5) guilty-plea counsel did not explain the immigration consequences of his plea. Defendant also alleged his sentence was excessive.
¶ 8 Following a hearing on July 30, 2010, the trial court denied defendant's amended motion. In its written opinion and order, the court stated: "It is clear from the record, however, that the Defendant has resided in and has been employed in the United States since 2001. The Defendant appeared in Court 16 times between May 12, 2008 and May 01, 2009. Four times without an interpreter and 12 times with an interpreter. The Court had the opportunity to observe Mr. Pena-Romero and how he interacted with counsel, the interpreter and how he responded to questions by the Court. Mr. Goodwin with Coles County Court Services met with Mr. Pena-Romero and was able to communicate with him to prepare the Pre-sentence Investigation report. *** At the hearing on Defendant's Amended Motion, when asked about being advised of deportation issues, the Defendant answered, 'I did not have enough explanation about that.' He did not specify what additional information he needed. If the Defendant now has an understanding of the immigration consequences, he has failed to advise the Court what he did not know at the time of his guilty plea. Defendant also failed to present testimony or ...