Often people hire attorneys to represent them in criminal charges not knowing that their attorney plans on pleading them under, now available, court programs. This attorney’s plan and procedure to work out a plea is usually a unilateral decision without input by the client who hears, at court for the first time, that this plea is their only option.
Pleading guilty and non-adjudicating a criminal charge could have long lasting and lingering consequences for many professionals such as nurses. It is important to be informed of the collateral consequences of your decision to plead guilty to criminal charge, even if the crime is only a misdemeanor. You never know when a recorded conviction will rear its ugly head.
The pleader attorney has given little thought to the effect on the client’s future. These court diversion programs are pitched as a “second chance” for clients who are advised that “no one will ever find out.” Employers, government entities, and private businesses have become aware and are now asking the damaging questions in their initial employee applications to find out this harmful information.
An example of this is the recent nursing license application in Mississippi, which asks in part for:
- Felony or misdemeanor convictions;
- Pled no contest (nolo contendre), pled to an alford plea (best interest plea);
- Pled to a deferred adjudication;
- Placed on supervision or court ordered probation whether you are guilty or not;
- Sentenced to serve jail/prison time or court ordered confinement;
- Granted pre-trial diversion;
- Have any pending criminal charges;
- Charged, convicted, or pled guilty to a DUI, DWI, OUI, or any drug or alcohol related driving conviction;
- Charged with DUI, DWI, OUI or any other drug or alcohol related offense that resulted in a lesser conviction such as reckless driving; or,
- Have been treated within the past five years for alcohol or drug dependency.
These new employer questions will soon be used nationwide on all work related applications. When hiring an attorney to defend you on any criminal charge you should ask if the representation is just for a plea deal. The only sure way to avoid this problem is to hire an attorney to prepare your case for trial, go to trial on your case, and be found not guilty. Then you should have your arrest and charges expunged. Simply pleading guilty and completing your court diversion program can lead to dire consequences.