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Guilty Pleas – Required Knowledge — Collateral & Direct Consequences — Sex Offender Registration Requirement

State v. George R. Bollig, 2000 WI 6, 232 Wis. 2d 561, 605 N.W.2d 199, affirming State v. Bollig, 224 Wis.2d 621, 593 N.W.2d 67 (Ct. App. 1999)
For Bollig: Thomas E. Knothe, Collins, Quillin & Knothe, Ltd.

Issue: Whether a guilty plea colloquy involving a crime that would require sex offender registration under Wis. Stat. § 301.45 must inform the defendant of that requirement for the plea to be voluntary.

Holding: Sex offender registration is a collateral not direct consequence of a plea, and therefore need not be included in the plea colloquy.

Bollig pleaded guilty to attempted sexual assault, an offense subjecting him to the sex offender registration requirement of § 301.45. He moved to withdraw the plea before sentencing on several grounds, including lack of knowledge of this registration requirement. The overarching principle is well-settled: a guilty plea court is constitutionally required to advise the defendant of any “direct consequence” of the plea, meaning “one that has a definite, immediate, and largely automatic effect on the range of defendant’s punishment.” ¶16. The question is whether the registration requirement is a direct or collateral consequence; the court answers, “collateral.” Our sex offender registration is similar to New Jersey’s “Megan’s Law,” a version of which has passed in all 50 states. The purpose is to protect the public and assist police, not punish sex offenders. ¶¶19-21. Bollig cleverly argues that the requirement is akin to shaming, but the court rebuffs this argument by construing the statutory scheme to allow only selective, not indiscriminate, release of information to the public. ¶¶23-24. The potential for vigilante acts doesn’t make the scheme punitive: “Simply because registration can work a punitive effect, we are not convinced that such an effect overrides the primary and remedial goal underlying Wis. Stat. § 301.45 to protect the public.” ¶26.

 

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