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S. Huband, Esq.
S. Huband, Esq., Attorney
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 1628
Experience:  Experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney.
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I pled no contest and spent no time in prison, but was forced

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I pled no contest and spent no time in prison, but was forced to register as a sex offender- my lawyer told me that I could try to get off list after 10 years, I was innocent, but my lawyer told me that there was a 2% chance that a jury would find me guilty- I feel that I have been misguided. My sentence was in 5/2003. I need help! Please, what are my options? I was charged with 2nd degree tier 3.
Thank you for the opportunity to assist you.

Q) What are my options?

Unfortunately, very few. The three options that come to mind are an appeal; a habeas petition; and/or a pardon.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but as an attorney and a professional on this site, I have to be honest with you and not just make things sound wonderful if that's not the case. While I'd rather tell you I have a wonderful solution to your very real dilemma, I cannot this time. Keep reading and I'll explain why...

Your no contest plea
First, let me cover the issue of your plea. A no contest (or nolo contendere) plea is an implied confession of guilt. A no contest plea has the same effect as a guilty plea; it leads the person to being found guilty of a crime. It simply means that the person does not wish to contest the charge. It doesn't make a person any less guilty of the crime in the eyes of the law.

A person who is convicted in a Circuit Court in Michigan generally has a right to pursue an appeal with the Court of Appeals or the Michigan Supreme Court. However, when a person enters a guilty or no contest plea, they effectively lose most of their rights to appeal the decision of the court. To the extent an appeal IS allowed, it is very limited.

At this point, you are years past the deadline to file an appeal. Generally, an appeal must be noted from the Circuit Court to the Court of Appeals within 21 days of final judgment. There is some wiggle room there as far as the 21 day rule, but not ten years worth.

Thus, your right to pursue an appeal of your conviction is most likely time-barred because it should have been filed a long time ago.

Habeas petition
Even after a guilty or no contest plea, however, a habeas corpus petition can be filed. A habeas petition is designed to attack the constitutionality of a person's detention. Habeas is not used to determine whether or not a person is guilty or not guilty; it's used to determine whether or not the process that led to a guilty finding was fair under the constitution. Generally, a successful habeas ruling means that a person can be re-tried for the same crime.

One of the issues you mentioned about your attorney might have qualified for habeas relief. If your attorney was ineffective, or failed to act reasonably prudently on your behalf to your detriment, it is possible you could have gotten a trial ordered due to the attorney's ineffective assistance in your case.

In Michigan, however, one of the rules for a habeas petition requires that the person be in custody of the state. Custody means in jail or in prison. Since you never served time in jail or prison, habeas relief is and was not available.

Federal law also allows a person to file a habeas petition. However, you're past the time to file a federal habeas petition; it must generally be filed within a year of exhausting all state remedies (i.e. appeal and habeas under state law.)

You could ask the state for a pardon in your case. While these are relatively rare, they are sometimes granted. If the case 10 years ago was your only interaction with the criminal justice system, and you've been out of trouble since, you've maintained a job and have otherwise been a model citizen, you certainly could qualify for a pardon.

An attorney who practices in this area would be helpful. If you do not know an attorney to call, try the Michigan State Bar attorney referral service. They can point you in the right direction.

Again, I wish I could come up with a brilliant solution to help you, but I have to be honest and say that your options are very limited. Nonetheless, I certainly hope I've been helpful to you to understand why those options are limited.

If you have follow-up questions or concerns on this topic, please ask. Otherwise, please rate my answer positively so that I can receive credit for my work. Doing so will NOT cost you any additional fee.

Take care,
S. Huband, Esq. and 2 other Criminal Law Specialists are ready to help you
Hello again,

I was notified that you rated the answer I gave positively, and I am very pleased and gratified that I was able to help you. I sincerely hope the matter(s) we discussed turn out well for you.

Please ask for me in the future if you have additional questions or concerns. Thank you very much for the opportunity to assist you.

Take care,