Supreme Court holds that criminal defense counsel has a Sixth Amendment obligation to inform a defendant about immigration consequences or to advise when consequences are clear.
The case, Padilla v. Kentucky, involved a Vietnam War veteran who has resided lawfully in the U.S. for over 40 years. His criminal defense lawyer advised him on the guilty plea which made Mr. Padilla subject to mandatory deportation from the United States. The state of Kentucky’s position was that Mr. Padilla had no right to withdraw his plea when he learned of the deportation consequence. The Supreme Court reversed the Kentucky court’s decision and rejected the federal government’s position that a noncitizen is protected only from “affirmative misadvice” and not from a lawyer’s failure to provide any advice about the immigration consequences of a plea.
“These changes to our immigration law have dramatically raised the stakes of a noncitizen’s criminal conviction. The importance of accurate legal advice for noncitizens accused of crimes has never been more important.These changes confirm our view that, as a matter of federal law, deportation is an integral part—indeed, sometimes the most important part — of the penalty that may be imposed on noncitizen defendants who plead guilty to specified crimes.”