Appeal from the Circuit Court of Boone County. No. 11-CF-351. Honorable C. Robert Tobin III, Judge, Presiding.
JUSTICE BIRKETT delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Hutchinson and Hudson concurred in the judgment and opinion.
[¶1] Defendant, Timothy M. Neese, filed a motion to suppress statements he made to a police officer. The trial court, relying on Illinois Supreme Court Rule 402(f) (eff. July 1, 2012), ruled that the statements were inadmissible because they were made during a plea discussion, and thus it granted the motion to suppress. Because the statements were not made during a plea discussion, we reverse and remand.
[¶2] I. BACKGROUND
[¶3] Defendant was indicted in the circuit court of Boone County on one count of felony theft (720 ILCS 5/16-1(a)(1)(A) (West 2010)). The following facts were established at the hearing on defendant's motion to suppress. On December 1, 2011, Officer Paul Derry of the Belvidere police department spoke to defendant on the telephone regarding a theft of coins from an apartment-building washing machine. During that conversation, defendant stated that he wanted to speak in person to Officer Derry and the complainant, Mike Thomas. Officer Derry told him that there was no need to do so, because Thomas had signed an " intent to prosecute form" and the decision to charge defendant was no longer up to Thomas. Officer Derry explained that it was up to the State's Attorney's office and the police department as to whether to charge defendant. He told defendant that he would speak to the State's Attorney's office and that, depending on what he was told, he would " decide where to go from there." Defendant told Officer Derry that he really wanted to speak to him with Thomas present. When Officer Derry repeated that that was not necessary, defendant responded that he was not willing to speak over the phone.
[¶4] While still speaking to defendant on the phone, Officer Derry invited him to come to the police station. He told defendant that, if defendant would come in and give a full, written confession, then he would consider charging defendant only with a misdemeanor. According to Officer Derry, he did not guarantee to defendant what would happen; he " simply told him [he] would be willing to consider that."
[¶5] After defendant indicated that he was willing to come to the police station before 3 p.m. that day, Officer Derry asked him what he would say. Defendant told him that he would write that he had taken coins from the washing machine. When Officer Derry asked him whether the amount reported by Thomas as being taken was accurate, defendant said " no" and that he took only about $50 on each of 12 occasions. Defendant never stated that he was willing to plead guilty or asked what his sentence might be if he provided a written statement. Nor did Officer Derry mention a possible guilty plea.
[¶6] Defendant never appeared, however, and, at approximately 3:55 p.m. on the same day, Officer Derry met with an assistant
State's Attorney. Officer Derry reported defendant's statements regarding the theft of the coins and obtained authority to charge a felony. Officer Derry did not tell the assistant State's Attorney that there had been any agreement with defendant to charge only a misdemeanor.
[¶7] In ruling on the motion to suppress, the trial court found that Officer Derry " made a specific offer that he would charge the defendant with a misdemeanor rather than a felony, and that defendant responded by accepting the offer and confessing to the crime." The court ruled that defendant's confession was " equivalent to an offer to plead guilty" and thus it granted the motion to suppress. After its motion to reconsider was denied, the State filed a certificate of ...