MSC Opinion: Mandatory lifetime electronic monitoring for CSC-I & II offenders is a part of the defendant’s sentence and the defendant must be informed of this consequence at his or her plea hearing
In People v. Cole, Case No. 143046, a unanimous Supreme Court held that mandatory lifetime electronic monitoring for defendants convicted of criminal sexual conduct in the first or second degree is a part of the defendant’s sentence and thus a direct consequence of his or her plea. Accordingly, due process and MCR 6.302 require that the defendant be informed of this lifetime electronic monitoring when he or she enters a guilty or no contest plea. The Court declined to decide whether a trial court must include mandatory lifetime electronic monitoring in the sentence evaluation under People v. Cobbs. Because the trial court failed to warn Mr. Cole at his plea hearing that he would be subject to mandatory lifetime electronic monitoring following his term of imprisonment, the judgment of the Court of Appeals was affirmed and Mr. Cole’s case was remanded to the trial court to allow the defendant the opportunity to withdraw his plea.
Mr. Cole was charged with two counts of criminal sexual conduct (“CSC”)—second degree. The victim was under the age of 13 at the time of the offense. In its Cobbs evaluation, the trial court agreed that if the defendant plead guilty to two counts of CSC-second degree, the court would not exceed the five-year minimum prison term, which would run concurrently. No mention was made in the Cobbs evaluation of the mandatory lifetime electronic monitoring. At the plea hearing, the prosecution noted that the statutory maximum term of imprisonment for this offense is 15 years in prison. Neither the prosecutor nor the trial court informed the defendant that he would be subject to electronic monitoring.
Defendant entered a guilty plea and was sentenced to serve concurrent five-to-fifteen year prison terms. Additionally, the defendant was sentenced to lifetime electronic monitoring pursuant to MCL 750.520c(2)(b). The defendant subsequently filed a motion seeking to withdraw his guilty plea arguing that his plea was not knowing and voluntary because he was not aware that he would be subject to mandatory lifetime electronic monitoring. The trial court denied defendant’s motion. The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s ruling holding that lifetime electronic monitoring is not a collateral consequence of defendant’s conviction, but rather part of the sentence itself. As such, defendant had a right to be informed of this possible punishment before entering a plea. The prosecutor sought leave to appeal, which was granted.
The Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals’ opinion ruling that lifetime electronic monitoring for CSC-first and second degree convictions is part of the sentence itself. Accordingly, both the due process clause and MCR 6.302 require that the trial court inform the defendant that he or she will be subject to monitoring at the time the defendant enters a guilty or no contest plea.
In reaching this conclusion, the Court recognized that the trial court’s duty in this matter does not fall under the explicit instructions found in MCR 6.302 (B)–(D). Rather, the Court looked to MCR 6.302(A) and noted that a plea must be “understanding, voluntary and accurate”. Similarly, the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution requires that a where a defendant waives his or her constitutional rights—which occurs when a defendant forgoes trial in lieu of entering a guilty or no contest plea—that waiver must be knowing and intelligent. The defendant must be aware of the consequences of his or her actions. The Cole Court concluded that MCR 6.302(A) is premised on the Due Process Clause and requires that a defendant be advised of the direct consequences of his or her actions for the plea to be understanding and voluntary.
The Court agreed with the Court of Appeals and concluded that lifetime electronic monitoring for CSC-first and second degree offenses is a part of the sentence, not a collateral consequence of a defendant’s conviction. The Court noted that the mandatory lifetime electronic monitoring requirement is found in the penalty section of the CSC-first and second degree statutes. Further, these monitoring provisions, as well as MCL 750.520n(1), state that the trial court “shall sentence” the defendant to lifetime monitoring. Indeed, the CSC-second degree statute explicitly notes that lifetime electronic monitoring is “[i]n addition to the penalty imposed under subdivision (a) and (b)”. MCL 750.520c(2)(b). In sum, the Court concluded that a plain reading of these statutes reveals that the Legislature intended for lifetime electronic monitoring to be part of the defendant’s sentence. According, due process and MCR 6.302(A) require that the defendant be advised at the time of his or her sentencing that he or she will be subject to lifetime electronic monitoring.