Written by attorney Omer Jaleel

Withdrawing a Guilty Plea in Illinois

The United States Supreme Court has stated that entering a guilty plea is “a grave and solemn act" that is not a temporary and meaningless formality that is not reversible at the defendant’s whim.Brady v. United States, 397 U.S. 742, 748 (1970). Once a guilty plea is entered it is a final disposition that cannot be withdrawn unless to correct a manifest injustice. Because of this, it is within the defendant’s sole discretion as to whether he or she wants to enter a plea of guilty.

A guilty plea must be made knowingly and intelligently with the defendant being fully admonished as to the rights being waived and the consequences of pleading guilty including the sentencing range available following the guilty plea. However, inadequate admonishments standing alone, does not automatically establish grounds for reversing the judgment or vacating the guilty plea. People v. Fuller, 205 Ill. 2d 308, 323 (2002). Rather, the central issue is whether the guilty plea was affirmatively shown to have been made voluntarily and intelligently, and if it was, substantial compliance with the required admonishments is all that is required. The Illinois Supreme Court has long established that, “with respect to voluntariness, the pertinent knowledge to be provided by the court prior to accepting a guilty plea includes only the direct consequences of the defendant's plea." People v. Delvillar, 235 Ill. 2d 507, 520 (2009). Direct consequences of a plea are those consequences affecting the defendant's sentence and other punishment that the circuit court may impose. People v. Williams, 188 Ill. 2d 365, 372 (1999).

Collateral consequences, on the other hand, are effects upon the defendant that the circuit court has no authority to impose. Delvillar, 235 Ill. 2d at 520. A collateral consequence is one that results from an action that may or may not be taken by an agency that the trial court does not control. Williams, 188 Ill. 2d at 372. As such, due process does not require that the defendant be informed of the collateral consequences of a guilty plea. Delvillar, 235 Ill. 2d at 520-21. See also,Williams, 188 Ill. 2d at 371 (holding that the defendant's knowledge of the collateral consequences of a guilty plea is not a prerequisite to the entry of a knowing and intelligent guilty plea).

Therefore, once a guilty plea is entered into it is very difficult to undue. As such, pleading guilty to any charge should be done only after a full consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Furthermore, collateral consequences are a very serious ramification of a guilty plea and an knowledgeable criminal defense attorney will fully explain not only the direct consequences of a guilty plea but also the collateral consequences that will surely follow.

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