Archive for the ‘Sentencing’ Category

Collateral Consequences of Convictions: What Your Lawyer Doesn’t Have to Tell You

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

As explained on most of the pages on the website, jail, prison, fines, and probation are just some of the direct consequences you may be facing when charged with a crime. However, many of the consequences stemming from a conviction are collateral, and not directly ordered by criminal court.

Many of these collateral consequences are speculative and unknown until they occur such as losing out on future job prospects, being denied housing, or even, in some cases, being subject to public scorn. Other collateral consequences are known, or should be known, by your lawyer early on in the case such as the requirement of predatory offender registration if charged and convicted of certain violent crimes and sex offenses.

In a Minnesota Supreme Court decision today, the Court held that a defense lawyer’s failure warn a client that his guilty plea to a felony domestic assault conviction would require predatory registration under Minnesota law is not ineffective assistance of counsel under the United States or Minnesota Constitutions. To be fair, the requirement of registration in this case is a much overlooked provision of the predatory registration law as a felony domestic assault conviction, on its own, does not require registration. In fact, the judge, prosecution, and the defense lawyer never mentioned the requirement to register, probably because none of them knew of the requirement.

However, under Minnesota law, predatory registration is a collateral consequence of any conviction arising out of the same circumstances as a registrable offense (i.e. originally charged as an offense requiring predatory registration). Additionally, like in the case today, predatory registration is required if the person was previously registered for a different conviction, and is subsequently convicted of a crime against the person.

The Defendant in this MN Supreme Court appeal was convicted of criminal sexual conduct 27 years ago which required him to register for 10 years following the conviction. Only because of that prior registration requirement, his conviction for felony domestic assault, a crime against a person, requires him to register as a predatory offender.

Despite today’s ruling, it is ineffective assistance of counsel if a defense attorney fails to advise a client as to deportation consequences as decided in Padilla v. Kentucky. Failure of a defense lawyer to advise on potential deportation consequences violates a defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to counsel. However, the MN Supreme Court distinguished this case from Padilla.


Coley Grostyan is a Minnesota criminal defense lawyer.

Law Office of Coley J. Grostyan, PLLC
701 Fourth Avenue South, Suite 300
Minneapolis, MN 55415

Supreme Court: Life without parole for juvenile offenders violates 8th Amendment

Monday, June 25th, 2012

In a 5-4 decision on two separate cases involving homicide convictions for two 14 year old boys, the United States Supreme Court held that the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment prohibits sentencing that mandates life without parole for juvenile offenders.

Relying on precedent establishing that children are constitutionally different from adults for sentencing purposes, the Court stated that punishment for crime should be ‘graduated and proportioned’ for the offender and the offense. The Court explained that the challenged sentencing schemes prevent considerations of the offender’s age, characteristics and circumstances related to the offense, and likelihood of rehabilitation.


Coley Grostyan is a Minneapolis, MN criminal defense attorney who represents individuals accused of crimes in the Twin Cities and surrounding suburbs, and throughout the State of Minnesota.

Law Office of Coley J. Grostyan, PLLC
701 Fourth Avenue South, Suite 300
Minneapolis, MN 55415

Fair Sentencing Act Retroactive: federal crack cocaine sentences reduced

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

The rise of crack cocaine use in the 1980s gave rise to the 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act which imposed significantly harsher federal penalties for crack cocaine in comparison the powder form. The 100:1 federal sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine offenses implemented by this legislation has routinely come under attack for being reactionary legislation to the crack epidemic of the 80s, and unjustly targeting urban minorities. Proponents of the 1986 Act stated that crack cocaine is more addictive than powder cocaine warranting the increased penalty. However, a study in 1997 found that crack cocaine is no more addictive than powder cocaine.1

In 2010, the Fair Sentencing Act was passed by Congress. This Act reduces the federal sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine from the former 100:1 ratio to a 18:1 ratio. In addition, the 2010 Act did away with the five-year mandatory minimum that formerly attached to first-time crack cocaine offenders. The Act also increased the amount of the mixture containing cocaine base that would trigger the mandatory minimum sentence.

In response to enacting the Fair Sentencing Act, in 2011, the United States Sentencing Commission voted to make the Fair Sentencing Act retroactive in its application. What this means is that federal inmates currently serving a sentence under the former sentencing guidelines will have their sentences reduced to comply with the 18:1 sentencing ratio implemented by the Fair Sentencing Act.

If you are accused of a controlled substance crime, whether in state or federal courts, contact the Law Offices of Coley Grostyan now at (612) 747-2254 for a free initial consultation with an experienced Minnesota drug lawyer.

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701 Building, Suite 300
701 Fourth Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55415

1Reinarman, Craig; Waldorf, Dan; Murphy, Sheigla B.; Levine, Harry G. (1997). “The Contingent Call of the Pipe: Bingeing and Addiction Among Heavy Cocaine Smokers”. In Reinarman, Craig; Levine, Harry G.. Crack in America: Demon Drugs and Social Justice. Berkeley, California: University of California Press.