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Padilla V. Kentucky – All I Can Say Is “Wow!"


Okay. I’m going to sound like a total geek in this blog post, but I’m so excited about the Padilla v. Kentucky decision that I had to tell someone! Lucky you! LOL. Seriously, this decision is a huge deal. I can’t tell you how many people have come into my office for their free consultation before Padilla v. Kentucky was decided on March 31, 2010, and told me how they pleaded guilty to a charge and were not told of the immigration consequences. Or, they were told that their plea of guilty “may” have immigration consequences. Well, before March 31, 2010, they were out of luck. The law used to be that immigration consequences were collateral, meaning that you couldn’t fight your conviction to have it overturned on the grounds that your lawyer didn’t tell you that you were going to be deported for pleading guilty or maybe deported for pleading guilty. All that has totally changed with Padilla v. Kentucky. Now, people who pleaded guilty before the Padilla v. Kentucky decision have hope! I have a client who lucked out in this regard. He pleaded guilty to a charge which would have made him an “aggravated felon” and he would have been deported. There’s no relief from deportation which means even if your whole family is here and they would suffer if you were deported and separated from them, no immigration judge can let you stay in the U.S. The immigration judge has to deport you. In the case of my client, he pleaded guilty to burglary one month before Padilla v. Kentucky was decided. His sentencing was set for after Padilla v. Kentucky was decided. My client had a public defender who didn’t advise him of the immigration consequences. His plea agreement said that his plea of guilty “may” subject him to immigration consequences like removal or deportation. I argued that the failure to advise by his public defender and the language in the plea agreement wasn’t good enough to tell him he would be deported if he pleaded guilty to the charge of burglary. Fortunately, his family hired me and I got his plea of guilty withdrawn thanks to the Padilla v. Kentucky decision. Now I’m working on getting him a deal that won’t result in his deportation. This is such a huge and wide-reaching decision because thousands upon thousands of resident aliens and immigrants who pleaded guilty prior to Padilla v. Kentucky may now have hope.

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