A recent Illinois Supreme Court case established a new precedent for criminal defendants who plead guilty and then later wish to pursue a claim of innocence. In an opinion filed December 3, 2020, the Illinois Supreme Court issued a unanimous opinion in the case People of the State of Illinois v. Demario Reed, 2020 IL 124940. Defendant Reed had pled guilty in 2015 to armed violence, but later submitted a postconviction claim of actual innocence. The previous law in Illinois was that a guilty plea meant that a defendant could not later seek to pursue a claim of actual innocence. However, the Illinois Supreme Court in the current case stated that “This court refuses to turn a blind eye to the manifest injustice and failure of our criminal justice system that would result from the continued incarceration of a demonstrably innocent person, even where a defendant pleads guilty. Accordingly, we find defendants who plead guilty may assert an actual innocence claim under the law.” While this new precedent may help future defendants, the Supreme Court found in this particular case that there was insufficient evidence that would have yielded a different result at trial, so the guilty plea and conviction remain in place, and Defendant Reed remains incarcerated. The lesson to be learned is that once a criminal defendant pleads guilty, it is exceedingly difficult to undo the plea and overturn the conviction.

If you are facing criminal charges, contact the Law Firm of Allison & Mosby-Scott. Our firm has extensive criminal defense experience and can help you navigate the potential ramifications of criminal charges.

Angela Skinner

Attorney at Law