Things to ask yourself before you plead guilty
Before your plead guilty to a criminal charge, it is important to think about all consequences of your plea, both direct and indirect consequences.
Direct ConsequencesWhen you plead guilty, there obvious direct consequences. Normally, a court will impose some combination of jail, fines, costs, restitution, probation, treatment, classes, license suspensions, and / or no contact provisions. Normally, the sentence you will receive will be outlined fairly well for you by your attorney.
Indirect ConsequencesProfessional licenses: Many people hold professional licenses (i.e. nurses, doctors, real estate agents, etc.). I would also add "commercial driver license" to this list. Perhaps "security clearance" is also important to include. Before your plead guilty, make sure your attorney knows every type of license or clearance you hold so that you can know whether that license or clearance is in jeopardy by your guilty plea.
Immigration status: Even if you are in the country legally, a criminal conviction can cause you problems. Make sure you lawyer knows your immigration status. Make sure you also talk to an immigration lawyer.
Probation: If you are on probation in the same jurisdiction where you are pleading guilty, your attorney should be able to advise you on your situation. If you are on probation in another jurisdiction, you may need to consult with an attorney in the other jurisdiction as well.
Family law: Before you plead guilty to any criminal offense, consider possible future family law cases (such as divorce or parenting plan litigation). You do not want a criminal record if you are gearing up for a custody battle.
Civil law: Before you plead guilty, make sure you know the possible lawsuit(s) from victims that may come after. It is important to discuss this with your criminal defense attorney, and if needed, a civil attorney.
Housing and employment: Any criminal conviction will be searchable by future employers or landlords. How will guilty plea affect your ability to obtain housing and / or a job in the future.
Habitual offender laws: Many states have habitual offender laws. Many states have "three strikes = life imprisonment laws". Some states have driver license suspensions that go beyond the court ordered suspension period. It is important to ask your attorney about all ancillary consequences. However, your attorney may not know everything about you, so it is important to tell your attorney about your history.
Before you plead guilty, don't just think about the jail time. Make sure you fully understand the impact of a criminal conviction before you take an offer that sounds good because there is little to no jail involved.