Michigan v. Cole (Opinion)Annotate this Case
The issue before the Supreme Court was whether MCR 6.302 and constitutional due process require a trial court to inform a defendant pleading guilty or no contest to first-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC-I) or second-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSCII) that he or she will be sentenced to mandatory lifetime electronic monitoring, if required by MCL 750.520b(2)(d) or MCL 750.520c(2)(b). Defendant David Cole was charged with two counts of CSC-II under MCL 750.520c(1)(a). The trial court agreed not to exceed a five-year minimum term of imprisonment for each charge, with the sentences to run concurrently. At the plea hearing, the prosecution read both CSC-II counts and described them as being punishable by up to 15 years in prison and requiring mandatory testing for sexually transmitted diseases. Defendant indicated to the trial court that he understood the CSC-II charges and that he faced a maximum penalty of 15 years' imprisonment. The trial court stated that it had agreed to a five-year concurrent cap on the minimum sentence, but that it had made no other agreement with regard to the plea or the sentence. The trial court never informed Defendant that, if sentenced to prison, he would be subject to mandatory lifetime electronic monitoring. Defendant moved to amend the judgment of sentence or permit withdrawal of his plea, arguing in part that the failure to advise him of the mandatory penalty of lifetime electronic monitoring rendered his plea involuntary. The trial court denied the motion, and Defendant sought leave to appeal. In a split opinion, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court and remanded to allow Defendant the opportunity to withdraw his plea. Upon review, the Supreme Court held that mandatory lifetime electronic monitoring is part of the sentence itself. Therefore, at the time a defendant enters a guilty or no-contest plea, the trial court must inform the defendant if he or she will be subject to mandatory lifetime electronic monitoring. In the absence of this information about a direct and automatic consequence of a defendant's decision to enter a plea and forgo his or her right to a trial, no defendant could be said to have entered an understanding and voluntary plea. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeals on this issue.