Defendant plead guilty. The offense was failure to support his children.  His violation of the Non-Support Punishment Act was a Class 4 felony.  Defendant was sentenced to 18 month’s imprisonment. He was ordered to pay restitution of $85,802. Defendant then filed pro se motions. He was trying to reduce his sentence and correct the restitution order.   Both motions were denied. Defendant appealed.

Illinois Supreme Court Rule 402 says that the court must make certain statements to the Defendant. The Judge is bound to tell the Defendant the whole picture.  The Judge must question the Defendant.  What is the Defendant’s understanding of the minimum and maximum penalties with a guilty plea.

The Trial Court Judge did not mention, in the guilty plea hearing, that restitution or a fine could be ordered.  But, restitution is a necessary part of the offense.  The restitution has to be ordered upon conviction.  Court was required to warn the Defendant about the potential consequences of his plea, including restitution.

The Defendant entered a blind plea. As a result, he put himself at the mercy of the court to sentence him. If a please is a blind one, then there are no discussions with the State’s Attorney about any possible agreements. You are completely on your own in front of the Judge.

It is possible that the Defendant misinterpreted the Judge’s warnings. Maybe the Defendant thought restitution was removed from the table. Maybe he thought that 18 months in jail was his only punishment.

The Appellate Court allowed the Defendant to return to the Trial Court and start all over. He could go to trial. He could plead guilty again. But, he knew what was at stake this time.

People v. Wigod, No. 1-09-0418 (1st Dist., 5th Div.).

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