The Supreme Court of the United States today in Padilla V Kentucky, ruled that if an immigrant is wrongly advised by his Criminal Defense Attorney about the Immigration consequences of a crime,is prejudiced and cannot be automatically deported.
Padilla was a Vietnam vet and had been a Permanent Resident for more than 40 years. He was charged with drug distribution charges in Kentucky and his Criminal Defense lawyer told him to plead guilty, and that it would have no immigration consequences. He was wrong and Padilla was sent for deportation.
What is astonishing is that this conservative Supreme Court recognized that deportation laws are extremely harsh now. “While once there was only a narrow class of deportable offenses and judges wielded broad discretionary authority to prevent deportation, immigration reforms have expanded the class of deportable offenses and limited judges’ authority to alleviate deportation’s harsh consequences. Because the drastic measure of deportation or removal is now virtually inevitable for a vast number of noncitizens convicted of crimes, the importance of accurate legal advice for noncitizens accused of crimes has never been more important. Thus, as a matter of federal law, deportation is an integral part of the penalty that may be imposed on noncitizen defendants who plead guilty to specified crimes.“
Thus Criminal Defense Lawyers have an affirmative duty to learn and advise clients about the immigration consequences of a crime.