On May 11, 2016, Wigell Law Group was at the Circuit Court of Will County in Joliet, Illinois for a sentencing hearing in a serious felony case involving the Unauthorized Use of Prescription Drug Forms.
Our client was charged with 4 counts of this Class 4 felony, each count exposing her to 1-3 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections, also known as IDOC. She had a very minimal criminal background, and had never been charged with a felony before. Her biggest goal was to stay out of prison.
This case lasted a little more than a year in the criminal court system in Will County. During that time, we prepared the case for trial while also negotiating with the State toward a resolution. Strong criminal defense attorneys know that the best strategy in defending their clients is meticulous analysis and preparation of the file for trial, because that sets up a strong presentation at trial if the case proceeds that way, and it also puts the defense in a very strong position to negotiate while armed with all the details about not only the facts of the situation and the law, but also the circumstances of an individual defendant’s life.
In this matter, due to our meticulous preparation and our knowledge of the file, the case law, the statute, the sentencing parameters, and our client’s life, we were able to negotiate with the State to not only keep her out of prison, but to structure the plea of guilty in such a way that a felony conviction would only be entered during the period of her probation.
This is achieved by negotiating for what is called 410 or 710 or 1410 probation. This is a special kind of probation named after the number of the statute that describes the probation.
After we finalized the details of the plea agreement with the State, our client accepted responsibility and pled guilty to one count in the Indictment in exchange for a sentence of 1410 probation. This meant that she would have to do non-reporting probation for a period of 2 years, including drug tests, and at the end of the two years, the felony conviction would be removed from her record. At that time, the only evidence of this case would be the arrest on her record, which she could request to have expunged or sealed as well.
This was the agreement between the Defense and the State, but a plea agreement is always subject to the Judge’s approval. The Judge of the Circuit Court of Will County expressed some concerns about the structure of the plea agreement, indicating her reluctance to approve it.
If you have a strong, experienced criminal defense attorney, there is no need to panic if this happens. Although judges generally approve agreements between the State and the Defense, they are not required to do so. The judge might reject the agreement or require additional information or verification.
In this matter, the Judge’s concerns led to arguments presented on the record by Wigell Law Group. The Judge was satisfied with our presentation of our position, and approved the plea agreement that would keep our client out of prison and protect her criminal record as well so that she was not burdened with a felony conviction for the rest of her life.
Sentencing Range Based on Charges = 1-3 years IDOC
WCD Result = No Prison – 24 months’ 1410 Expungible Probation
When defending serious felony matters, like this case involving prescription drugs, it is important to take a holistic approach to the case instead of a narrow-minded one. This means analyzing the facts, studying the statute and the sentencing parameters, and preparing a detailed mitigation report of all of the important facts and details of a person’s life. Using this approach, we are able to aggressively fight for our clients. In this case, we helped a young woman stay with her family, including her infant daughter, and kept the felony conviction off of her record so that it did not appear as a negative mark on her for the rest of her life.