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People v. Cuevas

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Second District

June 18, 2018

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
MIGUEL G. CUEVAS, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County. Nos. 11-CF-1616, 11-CF-1792 Honorable Brian F. Telander, Judge, Presiding.

          JUSTICE McLAREN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Zenoff and Birkett concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          MCLAREN JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 Defendant, Miguel G. Cuevas, appeals the second-stage dismissal of his petition filed under the Post-Conviction Hearing Act (725 ILCS 5/122-1 et seq. (West 2012)) in connection with his conviction of two counts of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver (720 ILCS 570/401(c)(2) (West 2010)). He contends that he made a substantial showing of ineffective assistance of counsel when he asserted that counsel failed to move to reconsider his sentence to preserve his right to appeal and failed to provide evidence in mitigation at sentencing. We reverse and remand for third-stage proceedings.

         ¶ 2 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 3 Defendant was charged with two counts in two consolidated cases and ultimately pleaded guilty with the stipulation in one case that he delivered more than five grams of cocaine (id.), making him ineligible for probation. Defendant had been released on bond in the first case when he committed the offense in the second case.

         ¶ 4 In July 2012, defendant pleaded guilty. He was represented by private counsel at the plea hearing and was fully admonished of the sentencing range of 4 to 15 years' incarceration on each count. The factual basis for the plea stated that, through the use of a confidential informant and controlled drug buys, officers obtained warrants to search defendant's home and recovered cocaine and other drugs. Defendant told the police that he sold the drugs to support his family.

         ¶ 5 The court accepted the guilty plea and ordered a presentence investigation report (PSI). On October 2, 2012, defendant failed to appear, and a bond forfeiture judgment was entered. On December 7, 2012, his counsel appeared and stated that defendant was picked up on warrants. Counsel told the court that defendant put himself into a treatment center for heroin addiction after he missed his court date. The court noted that the PSI had not been completed due to defendant's failure to appear and continued the matter for sentencing.

         ¶ 6 On January 9, 2013, the sentencing hearing was held. The PSI showed that defendant had a long history of drug use beginning at age 10 and a long history of drug-related offenses. He was expelled from his first high school for delivery and possession of drugs on school property and dropped out of his second high school. He later obtained a GED and attended a technical school during a time when he briefly stopped using drugs. Defendant reported no drug use since October 2012 and stated that he was involved in a methadone program.

         ¶ 7 Defendant gave a statement for the PSI in which he said that he sold drugs to support his habit and that, when the offenses occurred, he was thinking only of his habit so that he would not get sick. He said that, when he got out on bond, his addiction got worse, and he tried to get clean. He said that he could stay clean with help, that his family deserved better from him, and that, if he did not get clean, he would end up dying.

         ¶ 8 The PSI reported multiple unverified periods of employment. In regard to family, it stated that he had a 12-year relationship with Tamara Matelske, although defendant sought an order of protection against her in 2007. Defendant had two sons with Tamara. Their relationship ended when he was released on bond. Tamara was a codefendant in one of these cases and was on probation. The children were in the custody of defendant's father and stepmother. Defendant said that he was still close to Tamara but needed to take care of his own problems. Defendant moved in with Maria Gonzalez in April 2012, but he had not spoken with her since his arrest in December 2012. The PSI showed that defendant was convicted in 2009 of endangering the life or health of a child when he allowed his children to roam around in an apartment parking lot unattended and unsupervised.

         ¶ 9 The PSI stated that, when the first search warrant was executed, one child was present in the home with the illegal drugs. The Department of Children and Family Services was notified, and a neglect petition was pending in juvenile court. A police investigator testified for the State that, on the date of the second offense, cocaine was found in defendant's kitchen and in the children's bedroom. He said that the children were in the house when the warrant was executed. He said that defendant's bond was reduced in the first case because he was going to cooperate with a police investigation, but then he failed to do so.

         ¶ 10 Defense counsel did not present any witnesses. Defendant told the court that he was ashamed of his life and that he hurt his family and children. He said that he needed to be a better role model for his children and that they deserved better than what he had been.

         ¶ 11 The State asked for an eight-year sentence in each case. Defense counsel asked for the minimum of four years, arguing that defendant's addiction was the root of his problems and that he had sought treatment. The trial court sentenced defendant to seven years' incarceration on each count, to run consecutively, and recommended drug treatment. The court observed that addiction had ruined defendant's life and that his children deserved better. The court found "extremely aggravating" that drugs were found at the home when at least one child was present. The court further stated that it was difficult to imagine what type of environment could be worse for the children and that defendant obviously did not work enough to support the children. The court also noted defendant's "terrible history" of criminal offenses. The court found very little rehabilitative potential, based on defendant's admission about his drug use and past failures at rehabilitation. The court admonished ...


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