The right to representation in criminal matters is one of the bedrock principles of our legal process. This is primarily based on the deprival of one’s freedom in the event of a criminal conviction. This part seems obvious because people certainly don’t want to go to prison. But the unseen future issues that can come with a criminal conviction are just as important in preventing as a stint behind bars.
Essentially, a person convicted of a sex crime in Michigan may have difficulty finding future employment because of the many prohibitions against felons being employed in certain positions. Also, sex offenders may be required to register with the state, which may prevent them from living in certain areas (i.e. near a school zone and away from certain communities.)
Additionally, a person convicted of a sex crime may be prohibited from exercising their constitutional right to vote. For example, a 2014 article by The Intercept, highlighted the story of tens of thousands of non-violent felons (mainly drug related) still without the right to vote, even after they have served their sentences. Additionally, since welcoming former sex offenders back into society is such a touchy issue, it is unlikely that political pressure will rise to the level that commands action.
With tens of thousands of convicts being released from prisons each year, the problem will continue to grow as many of them must wait nearly a decade after their release to secure their rights. While the fight to restore voting rights continues, some may be able to avoid this fate by having skilled representation so that a criminal conviction may be prevented.