Criminal defense attorneys often get wrapped up in the particular terms of a sentence when talking to their clients about the benefits and risks of taking a plea, but for our clients, we realize that your concerns are much broader. You want to know how this conviction is going to impact your life. This includes plenty of what attorneys call collateral consequences that go beyond jail, probation, and fines and costs. Here is an almost definitely incomplete list of potential affects of a conviction that you should be aware of.
Probably the most important consequence to any non-citizen is the risk of deportation. There are several crimes, including most felonies, which will cause you to be deemed deportable if you are convicted of them or plead guilty to them. Once you are deemed deportable you will be automatically deported unless you fit into a very narrow exception that would allow the Attorney General to waive deportation. The crimes that may cause you to be deemed deportable are:
- Crimes of moral turpitude with a possible sentence of at least 1 year in jail that are convicted within 5 years of your date of admission (or 2 or more crimes of moral turpitude regardless of when they are committed)
- Aggravated felonies
- Failure to register as a sex offender
- Controlled Substance crimes except for a single offense for possessing 30 grams or less of marijuana for personal use
- Drug abuse or addiction
- Firearm offenses
- Domestic violence, stalking, or child abuse, neglect, or abandonment
- Violation of a Personal Protection Order involving threats of violence, harassment or bodily injury to the protected party
- Additional federal crimes
Sex Offender Registry
Another very important consequence of some convictions is the requirement that you register as a sex offender. If you are convicted or plead guilty to an offense listed in the Michigan Sex Offender Registry Act, MCL 28.722, you will be required to register as a sex offender for a period of 25 years. If you already are required to register as a sex offender, then you will be required to register for life. This requirement applies to the following crimes:
- Accosting, enticing or soliciting child for immoral purpose
- Sodomy against a minor
- Indecent Exposure, Second Offense
- Third or subsequent offenses of any of the following:
- Disorderly Person
- Indecent Exposure
- Gross indecency against a minor
- Kidnapping a minor
- Leading, taking, carrying away, decoying, or enticing away a child under 14
- Soliciting, accosting, or inviting a minor to commit prostitution or immoral act
- Criminal Sexual Conduct or Sexual Assault
Driver License Consequences
Many criminal charges also carry with them the risk of sanctions to your driverâ€™s license through the Michigan Secretary of State. These determinations are made by the Secretary of State and are not within the control of the prosecutor or the court. These sanctions apply to the following crimes:
- Controlled Substance crimes
- Operating While Intoxicated
- Operating While Visibly Impaired
- Open Intoxicants in a Motor Vehicle
- Minor in Possession of Alcohol
- Use of a False ID to Purchase Alcohol
- Driving While License Suspended
- Failure to Pay Child Support
Also, even if you have not been convicted, if you were asked to take a chemical test to determine whether you were intoxicated while driving and you refused your license will be automatically suspended for one (1) year. If you refuse a second time within seven (7) years, your license will be automatically suspended for two (2) years.
Sometimes, criminal actions can also expose you to civil liability to the victim. These include cases of malicious destruction of property and assault matters as well as others. If you are convicted or plead guilty to these kinds of criminal actions, what you say on the record can be used against you in the civil suit, potentially exposing you to paying substantial financial damages. However, this can be avoided if you agree to plead No Contest to the charges. Sometimes a prosecutor will not agree to this arrangement, but if you are concerned about a potential lawsuit, talk to your attorney about avoiding that liability by pleading No Contest instead.
Some employers will not hire convicted felons. However, the employers who take a hard line on this are fewer than you think. More often, they want to know the circumstances behind the conviction. Also, if you are convicted to a misdemeanor, many employers will still be willing to hire you.
However, there are some jobs, particularly those that require special security clearance, that take a hard stance against criminal activity, even after you are already hired. Also, several industries such as the medical field, attorneys, and day care providers, require certifications that will be revoked if you are convicted or plead guilty to certain kinds of crimes. If you work in one such industry, tell your attorney. He or she will work hard to keep any plea agreement on such terms that your employment consequences will be minimal.
In today economic climate, many people are going back to school and relying on federal and state scholarships to pay for tuition and living expenses along the way. It is important to know that conviction of a felony may make you ineligible for future financial aide. In particular, conviction of a controlled substance felony will make you lose any federal funding that you have previously been awarded.
There is more to being convicted of a crime than just jail time, probation, and fines and costs, but if you are actively involved in the plea negotiation process and inform your attorney of any special circumstances that may apply to your case, then your attorney can work hard to help minimize the collateral consequences of your conviction or guilty plea.
* Please note: Every case is different, and there may be some aspect of your particular case which may result in an outcome other than is described above. This post is not intended as legal advice and may not apply to your particular case. It is always best to contact our office for a consultation if you have been or believe you may be charged with a crime.