Can Defendant Challenge Court's Authority to Impose a Sentence Without Withdrawing His Guilty Plea ?

In People v. Wilson, 181 Ill. 2d 409, 229 Ill. Dec. 896, 692 N.E.2d 1107 (1998), the defendant entered a negotiated plea of guilty to various offenses. In exchange, the State agreed to nolpros one charge and recommend a sentence cap of nine years' imprisonment for the other charges. The trial court accepted the plea agreement and imposed concurrent sentences of nine years' imprisonment. Defendant appealed. On appeal the court held that, because the trial court exercised discretion to determine the appropriate sentence for the defendant, the defendant could, without moving to withdraw his plea, raise the issue on appeal as to whether the trial court abused its discretion when it sentenced the defendant. People v. Wilson, 286 Ill. App. 3d 169, 172-73, 221 Ill. Dec. 385, 675 N.E.2d 292 (1997). Our supreme court affirmed but found Evans inapplicable to the resolution of the controversy. The Wilson court determined that the defendant's claim was not barred, notwithstanding the defendant's failure to move to withdraw his guilty plea. Wilson's claim could be considered on appeal because the issue was whether the trial court violated statutory requirements in its imposition of the defendant's sentence and not merely a claim as to the excessiveness of the defendant's sentence. Wilson, 181 Ill. 2d at 412-13. The supreme court further found that, "a challenge to a trial court's statutory authority to impose a particular sentence is not waived when a defendant fails to withdraw her or his guilty plea and vacate the judgment." Wilson, 181 Ill. 2d at 413.