JUSTICE KILBRIDE delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Chief Justice Karmeier and Justices Freeman, Thomas,
Garman, Burke, and Theis concurred in the judgment and
1 In this appeal, we address a disagreement in the appellate
court on the proper standard for reviewing a guilty-plea
defendant's challenge to his plea counsel's
performance raised in a petition seeking relief under the
Post-Conviction Hearing Act (725 ILCS 5/122-1 et
seq. (West 2014)). The specific issue presented is
whether defendant made a substantial showing of a violation
of his constitutional right to counsel by alleging that he
entered into a negotiated guilty-plea agreement in reliance
on his counsel's erroneous sentencing advice.
2 The trial court granted the State's motion to dismiss
defendant's postconviction petition without an
evidentiary hearing. The appellate court affirmed. In
relevant part, the court rejected two other appellate court
decisions holding that such a claim was sufficient, standing
alone, to establish prejudice and to warrant an evidentiary
hearing. See 2016 IL App (4th) 140760, ¶¶ 11, 25
(disagreeing with and ultimately rejecting People v.
Kitchell, 2015 IL App (5th) 120548, and People v.
Stewart, 381 Ill.App.3d 200 (2008)). For the reasons
that follow, we agree with the appellate court's
conclusion and affirm its judgment, albeit under a slightly
4 On September 13, 2012, defendant Anthony S. Brown was
charged by information with the offenses of being an armed
habitual criminal (720 ILCS 5/24-1.7(a) (West 2012)) and home
invasion with a firearm (720 ILCS 5/19-6(a)(3) (West 2012)).
The charges arose from an incident that occurred on September
9 in Champaign, Illinois, at the home of defendant's
5 On May 6, 2013, defendant entered a fully negotiated guilty
plea to the charge of being an armed habitual criminal in the
circuit court of Champaign County. In exchange, defendant was
sentenced to 18 years' imprisonment, and the State
nol-prossed the home invasion charge.
6 Before entry of the plea agreement, the trial court
explained the charges, noting that defendant was charged as
an armed habitual criminal after having previously been
convicted of unlawful use of a weapon by a felon and unlawful
possession with intent to deliver cannabis. The court
admonished defendant that the armed habitual criminal charge
was a Class X felony with a minimum sentence of 6 years and a
maximum sentence of 30 years, a 3-year term of mandatory
supervised release, and a potential fine of $25, 000. The
court further admonished defendant of his trial rights and
the consequences of waiving those rights and entering a
guilty plea. Defendant responded that he understood his
rights and that he intended to plead guilty.
7 In presenting the plea agreement, the State recommended a
sentence of 18 years' imprisonment and payment of fees.
When asked by the trial court if defendant agreed with those
terms, defendant responded affirmatively. Defendant denied
that he was promised anything and denied that he was
threatened or forced to accept the plea agreement.
8 The State then offered the following factual basis for the
"On September 9 of 2012, Champaign police were called to
1207 Crispus in Champaign by Shauntrayah Foster and Taylor
Rodgers, who were reporting that the defendant, who they knew
as their mother's ex-boyfriend, was in the home with a
gun. Police responded and had to force entry into the home.
As they forced entry, the defendant ran down the hallway
towards them. Three police officers saw him lifting the gun
from the area of his waistband [and] pointing it in their
direction. They discharged their weapons. The revolver was
recovered where [defendant] dropped it. It was sent to the
state lab and determined to be a .22 caliber revolver that
was in functioning condition."
the State concluded its factual basis, the trial court asked
defendant's attorney if he believed the State had
witnesses who would testify to those facts. Defense counsel
responded affirmatively. The court asked defendant if he was
pleading guilty to the charge of being an armed habitual
criminal, and defendant responded "yes."
9 The trial court accepted the plea agreement and proceeded
to sentencing. Consistent with the plea agreement, the court
sentenced defendant to 18 years' imprisonment and
dismissed the home invasion charge.
10 On May 22, 2013, defendant filed a pro se notice
of appeal. Defendant attached a signed affidavit, indicating
that he "took plea at 50% not 85%." The trial court
appointed the Office of the State Appellate Defender to
11 On June 7, 2013, defendant filed a pro se motion
for reduction of sentence, asserting that he received
ineffective assistance of trial counsel because his counsel
erroneously advised defendant that he would serve only 50% of
his 18-year sentence. The trial court denied the motion
because defendant entered a negotiated guilty plea and,
therefore, was not permitted to file a motion to reduce
12 On August 16, 2013, the appellate court dismissed
defendant's direct appeal at his request. Defendant did
not refile an appeal.
13 On February 27, 2014, defendant filed a pro se
postconviction petition, challenging the constitutionality of
the armed violence statute that relied on his prior
conviction for unlawful use of a weapon. Defendant also
argued that he received ineffective assistance of trial
counsel because counsel misinformed him on his potential
eligibility for good time credit and incorrectly advised
defendant that he would serve only 50% of his 18-year
14 The trial court appointed the Champaign County public
defender to represent defendant in the postconviction
proceedings. Defendant's counsel filed an amended
postconviction petition on June 19, 2014. The amended
petition is the subject of this appeal.
15 Defendant's amended petition withdrew his
constitutional challenge to the armed violence statute and,
instead, focused exclusively on his sentencing claim.
Specifically, defendant alleged that trial counsel told him
that he would serve 85% of his sentence if convicted of the
home invasion charge but that he would serve only 50% of his
sentence if convicted of the armed habitual criminal charge.
Defendant noted that his counsel's advice was erroneous
because the applicable sentencing statute requires a person
convicted of the offense of armed habitual criminal to serve
85% of the sentence (730 ILCS 5/3-6-3(a)(2)(ii) (West 2012)).
In addition, the record of the plea hearing demonstrates that
defendant was not advised on how much of his sentence he
would have to serve. Nor did any of the accompanying
documentation (the charges, the sentencing papers, or the
mittimus) include that information. Defendant further alleged
in his amended petition that his counsel's ineffective
assistance prejudiced him because he pleaded guilty based on
the erroneous belief that he would serve only 50% of his
18-year sentence when he actually must serve 85%, an
additional 6 years in prison. Defendant asserted that if he
had been properly advised on sentencing he "would not
have accepted the plea and would have taken the case to trial
wherein he would have been acquitted." Defendant argued
that he made the requisite "substantial showing of a
violation of a constitutional right" and was entitled to
an evidentiary hearing.
16 Defendant attached several documents to his amended
petition, including his own affidavit. In his affidavit,
defendant averred that he trusted his trial counsel to give
him accurate information on sentencing and believed his
counsel because "[counsel] showed me paperwork for the
plea and it said nothing about having to do 85%."
Defendant further attested that "right before the
plea" he confirmed with his trial counsel that he would
serve only 50% of his sentence and that counsel told
defendant, "don't play with these people."
17 Defendant did not discover that his trial counsel
erroneously advised him on sentencing until he arrived at the
Department of Corrections. Although defendant attempted to
contact his trial counsel after learning this information, he
was never contacted by counsel. Defendant averred that he
would not have ...