The First District Appellate Court Holds That During a Motion to Withdraw Guilty Plea, Counsel’s Certification Must Cover Both the Plea and the Sentence.

In this case, the defendant plead guilty to violating an order of protection pursuant to a “closed” plea agreement as opposed to an “open”, or blind plea and was sentenced. The defendant promptly filed a document that the trial court interpreted to be a pro se motion to withdraw his guilty plea. Gillespie’s counsel followed up with pleadings and a 604 (d) certificate that indicated that he discussed issues with the defendant regarding his contentions of error regarding the plea, but neglected to mention anything about discussions with the defendant about his contentions of error about the sentence. The trial court denied the motion to withdraw his guilty plea and the defendant appealed.

The defendant argued on appeal that the certificate was insufficient. The State argued on appeal in response that case law regarding adequate certifications mentioning discussions of contentions of error to the plea and the sentence only applied to open pleas and not negotiated deals.

The First District Appellate Court disagreed, and held that the certification must cover both regardless of the nature of the plea negotiation or hearing.

The case is People v. Jeremy Gillespie.

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