Appeal from Circuit Court of Vermilion County. No. 12CF79. Honorable Craig H. DeArmond, Judge Presiding.
Michael J. Pelletier, Jacqueline L. Bullard, and Ryan R. Wilson, all of State Appellate Defender's Office, of Springfield, for appellant.
Randall Brinegar, State's Attorney, of Danville (Patrick Delfino, David J. Robinson, and Linda Susan McClain, all of State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's Office, of counsel), for the People.
PRESIDING JUSTICE POPE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Turner and Appleton concurred in the judgment and opinion.
POPE, PRESIDING JUSTICE
[¶1] On December 16, 2013, pursuant to a negotiated plea agreement, defendant, Nathan B. Grant, pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance (cocaine) (720 ILCS 570/402(c) (West 2010)), with an agreed-upon sentence of 2 years' imprisonment, with credit for 384 days served. On October 14, 2014, defendant filed a pro se postconviction petition, alleging he did not receive the benefit of the bargain because he received a different, more onerous sentence than the one to which he agreed. On October 20, 2014, the trial court summarily dismissed the petition as frivolous and patently without merit.
[¶2] On appeal, defendant argues the trial court erred in dismissing his postconviction petition because his claim he did not receive the benefit of the bargain with the State presented the gist of a constitutional claim. We affirm.
[¶3] I. BACKGROUND
[¶4] The record shows on September 23, 2011, defendant was arrested and on September 26, 2011, was charged with two counts of aggravated battery in a public place (720 ILCS 5/12-3.05(c) (West 2010)) and one count of domestic battery (720 ILCS 5/12-3.2(a)(2) (West 2010)) in Douglas County case No. 11-CF-70. On February 15, 2012, while out on bond, defendant was arrested for the instant offense and charged with possession of a controlled substance (cocaine) (720 ILCS 570/402(c) (West 2010)) and possession of cannabis (720 ILCS 550/4(c) (West 2010)) in Vermilion County case No. 12-CF-79.
[¶5] Relevant to this appeal, on January 22, 2013, the Douglas County circuit court (in case No. 11-CF-70) sentenced defendant to 3 years and 3 months' imprisonment for aggravated battery in a public place (720 ILCS 5/12-3.05(c) (West 2010)), with credit for 268 days served (September 23, 2011, to October 13, 2011; March 1, 2012, to May 10, 2012; and July 30, 2012, to January 21, 2012). Defendant completed his prison sentence on December 14, 2013, but he remained in prison during mandatory supervised release (MSR) because the Department of Corrections (DOC) could not find housing.
[¶6] On December 16, 2013, defendant appeared before the Vermilion County circuit court on writ from the Illinois River Correctional Center, where he was serving MSR imposed by Douglas County (in case No. 11-CF-70). The State informed the court the parties reached a fully negotiated plea agreement. Defense counsel advised the court of the terms of the agreement, stating defendant would plead guilty to count I, possession of a controlled substance, in exchange for a sentence of two years' imprisonment, with credit for time served. Additionally, the State noted count II, possession of cannabis, would be dismissed.
[¶7] The trial court advised defendant of the nature of the charges and the range of possible penalties. The court reviewed the terms of the plea agreement with defendant and admonished him of his right to plead not guilty and persist in that plea. The court further advised defendant by pleading guilty, he would give up his right to trial and relinquish his rights to be confronted with the witnesses against him and to cross-examine those witnesses. In response to the court's queries, defendant sad he understood the nature of the charges against him and the range of possible penalties. Defendant confirmed he understood the terms of the plea agreement and the rights he would be waiving by pleading guilty. Defendant stated his choice to plead guilty was made of his own free will and no person forced, threatened, or coerced him to plead guilty. Defendant further affirmed no one promised him anything other than what had been discussed.
[¶8] The trial court again asked defendant whether he understood the terms of the agreement and defendant answered, " Yes." Thereafter, the State informed the court defendant's sentence would run consecutively to his sentence in Douglas County case No. 11-CF-70 and the following exchange occurred:
" THE COURT: [Defendant], you understand consecutive sentence? Sentence doesn't begin until the completion of the sentence.
THE DEFENDANT: Yes.
MS. LACY [assistant public defender]: Your Honor, he has completed other sentencing, currently on parole, but because of his prior sex abuse case he's required to register and therefore he has to do sex offender registry. He doesn't have a placement, Judge, so he's sitting in [DOC] currently on parole.
THE COURT: So you understand that this is a consecutive sentence to the one that you've completed ?
THE DEFENDANT: I do but I don't. I don't understand how it can be consecutive to a charge that's already done?
THE COURT: I'm just telling you what Mr. Brozovich is telling me.
THE DEFENDANT: Well--
THE COURT: Either you're in agreement with that or you're not. If you're not in agreement with that then we don't have a plea. If you're in agreement with that then we do. ...