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People v. Palmer-Smith

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fourth District

March 26, 2015

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
KWENTON PALMER-SMITH, Defendant-Appellant

Page 96

Appeal from Circuit Court of Champaign County. No. 12CF747. Honorable Thomas J. Difanis, Judge Presiding.

PRESIDING JUSTICE POPE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Harris and Appleton concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

Page 97

POPE, PRESIDING JUSTICE.

[¶1] In July 2013, defendant entered into a negotiated guilty plea to unlawful possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance (more than 900 grams of a substance containing cocaine) (720 ILCS 570/401(a)(2)(D) (West 2010)), a Class X felony punishable by 15 to 60 years' imprisonment. In exchange, the State agreed to dismiss two other counts and recommend a sentencing cap of 20 years in prison. The trial court sentenced defendant to 20 years in prison. The court denied defendant's motion to withdraw his guilty plea. Defendant appeals, arguing the court erred by not considering his motion to reduce his sentence on the grounds the court improperly considered a factor inherent in the offense when it sentenced him to the maximum sentence within the agreed sentencing cap. We affirm.

[¶2] I. BACKGROUND

[¶3] In May 2012, the State charged defendant with unlawful possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance (900 or more grams of cocaine) (count I) (720 ILCS 570/401(a)(2)(D) (West 2010)), a Class X felony punishable by 15 to 60 years in prison; unlawful possession with intent to deliver cannabis (more than 2,000 grams but not more than 5,000 grams) (count II) (720 ILCS 550/5(f) (West 2010)), a Class 1 felony punishable by 4 to 15 years in prison; and unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon (count III) (720 ILCS 5/24-1.1(a) (West 2010)), a Class 2 felony punishable by 3 to 14 years in prison (720 ILCS 5/24-1.1(e) (West 2010)).

[¶4] At an April 2013 hearing, defendant indicated his agreement to plead guilty to count I in exchange for the State agreeing to dismiss counts II and III and recommend a sentencing cap of 20 years' imprisonment. The trial court admonished defendant of his right to a trial, to proof beyond a reasonable doubt, to hear and cross-examine witnesses against him, to call witnesses on his own behalf, and to testify. Defendant indicated his understanding of the rights he was waiving by pleading guilty. Defendant further advised the court there had not been any other promises, force, or threats to cause him to plead guilty.

[¶5] The factual basis for the plea was as follows: In 2012, the Champaign police department was investigating drug sales involving defendant, including several controlled buys. Based on that information, the police obtained search warrants for defendant's residence and his parents' residence, where defendant often stayed. Officers located over 3,000 grams of a substance testing positive for cocaine, approximately 5,000 grams of a substance testing positive for cannabis, over $73,000 in United States currency, a loaded .45-caliber pistol, digital scales, and drug-packaging materials. Defendant admitted residing at the residences and ownership of the drugs, gun, and money.

[¶6] The trial court accepted defendant's guilty plea, entered judgment on the plea, and ordered preparation of a presentence investigation report (PSI).

[¶7] On May 2, 2013, a new attorney entered his appearance on defendant's behalf. On that same date, defendant filed a motion to withdraw his plea of guilty and vacate the judgment. Defendant argued he was deprived of his right to effective assistance of counsel when his original counsel was not aware of case law impacting the trial court's earlier ruling on motions to suppress evidence. Therefore, he argued, his plea was involuntary. Counsel filed a certificate pursuant to Rule 604(d) (Ill. S.Ct. R. 604(d) (eff. Feb. 6, 2013)).

Page 98

[¶8] On May 14, 2013, defendant filed a supplemental motion to withdraw his plea of guilty and vacate the judgment, which included numerous exhibits. In this motion, defendant made more in-depth arguments about his counsel's ineffective assistance regarding the motions to suppress evidence. Defendant again maintained, but for his counsel's errors, he would not have pleaded guilty.

[¶9] At the May 2013 sentencing hearing, the trial court noted defendant had filed motions to withdraw his plea, which the court indicated it would consider after the sentencing hearing. Although defense counsel had filed a Rule 604(d) certificate along with the motion to withdraw the plea, the court gave counsel permission to file an amended certificate to include language he had reviewed the transcript of the sentencing hearing.

[¶10] The hearing proceeded to sentencing, where the trial court indicated receipt and consideration of the PSI. Prior to the hearing, defendant had filed written objections to the PSI, among other things, objecting to inclusion of all traffic offenses, ordinance violations, and juvenile-petition charges as part of defendant's prior record. The court indicated it did not consider petty traffic ...


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