15-Year-Old Defendant Charged with First-Degree Murder
On August 4th, 2010, a 15-year-old defendant was charged with first-degree murder after the shooting death of another individual. He was also charged with two counts of armed robbery. The murder counts alleged that he personally discharged a handgun killing another person. The defendant was offered a plea deal in which he would personally deliver testimony under oath concerning the crime. The prosecution offered him a 35-year sentence and dropped the charges of armed robbery.
The defendant delivered testimony concerning how he and three other individuals conspired to rob a fourth individual. The court informed him that he would be waiving his rights to a trial by jury and made other admonishments. The defendant stated that he understood. He expressed a desire to plead guilty and signed a jury waiver. The defendant stated that he was pleading guilty of his own free will and that no one had forced or threatened him to plead guilty.
However, his defense counsel filed a motion to withdraw the plea but provided no grounds for the requested withdrawal. The defendant alleged that the plea agreement was coerced by his public defender. The public defender informed him that if he was convicted at trial he would get a life sentence. His attorney told him that it would be difficult to secure a finding of not guilty when his three codefendants were alleging that he was the one who fired the weapon.
Defendant files postconviction petition
On November 7th, 2019, the defendant filed a postconviction petition alleging that (1) his sentence violated the proportionate penalties clause of the Illinois Constitution (2) the Truth in Sentencing Act, because it required him to serve 100% of his sentence without the possibility of parole and the defendant was a juvenile at the time of his conviction (3) that his conviction was unconstitutional because he was repeatedly threatened that he could serve out the rest of his life in prison. Current procedural rules state that a juvenile tried as an adult cannot be sentenced to more than 40 years in prison.
When sentencing a juvenile defendant, the court is required to consider the age of the defendant. Juvenile defendants, even those tried as adults, cannot receive life sentences. The defendant argued that his defense lawyer erred when telling him that he could be sentenced to life in prison if he took the case to trial. In other words, the defendant was given bad information by his attorney. The defendant claimed that this amounted to coercion and formed the basis of why he took the plea deal. However, the appeals court ruled that the defendant made an informed decision when he accepted the plea deal, and his motion for reconsideration was denied.
Talk to a Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
Patel Law, PC represents the interests of those charged with serious crimes in Illinois. Call our Decatur criminal defense lawyers today to schedule an appointment, and we can begin discussing your case immediately.