Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Padilla v. Kentucky

As immigration practitioners undoubtably know, immigration law is often quite severe when it comes to the consequences of criminal convictions.  Unbenownst to many criminal law practitioners, the unique severity of deportation often turns a seemingly advantageous plea deal into an immigration nightmare. 

On March 31, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court addressed this issue and held that criminal defense attorneys have an obligation to inform their clients if a guilty plea carries a risk of deportation. The Court ruled that the Sixth Amendment requires defense counsel to provide affirmative, competent advice to a noncitizen defendant regarding the immigration consequences of a guilty plea, and, absent such advice, a noncitizen may raise a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel.  Writing for the majority, Justice Stevens stated that, "[o]ur longstanding Sixth Amendment precedents, the seriousness of deportation as a consequence of a criminal plea, and the concomitant impact of deportation on families living lawfully in this country demand no less."

As the Court noted, immigration law is notoriously complex.  The Immigration group welcomes referrals and consultations on the immigration consequences of criminal convictions.

To learn more about Padilla, read the opinion and a practice advisory.

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