Padilla filed a pro-se motion for post-conviction relief because of the ineffective counsel he received from his criminal defense attorney. His case reached the Kentucky Supreme Court where the Court found that there were no grounds for post-conviction relief. The defendant took his case to the United States Supreme Court for further review and post-conviction relief. According to the United States Supreme Court, if deportation may be a consequence of a criminal plea or conviction attorneys must inform their clients of this very serious consequence to a guilty plea, and advice must be given about the immigration consequences. Ultimately, the Court reversed the decision, establishing that Padilla's criminal defense counsel should have informed him about the risk of deportation when pleading guilty to a crime .
The major lesson learned from Padilla is that it is the responsibility and duty of a criminal defense lawyer to advise a client about the impact of a client's plea in a criminal court on their immigration status. Prior to this Supreme Court case, it was assumed that in almost all States that a Judge would inform every defendant, whether a citizen or not, that a criminal sentence could affect an individual's immigration status. However, now it is clear that that responsibility lies in the Criminal Defense lawyer's hands. It is important for attorneys to be fully aware of this responsibility and investigate the status of their clients to inform them of their rights and how their case may potentially affect their immigration status. It is imperative that a criminal defense attorneys be fully aware of the of immigration law. If they are like most criminal defense attorneys in this country and they do not understand the extremely complex area of immigration law they are charged with referring their clients to a knowledgeable Immigration Attorney so they know your clients are protected and have an understanding of the impact the criminal plea may have on their status.
It is absolutely essential for your criminal defense attorney to have immigration knowledge or the understanding that you must be referred to an attorney who possesses that knowledge so you can be adequately advised on how the criminal case may impact your decision to plea. At Buckmaster & Ellzey , we possess that knowledge and experience in both criminal and immigration law . It is that unique expertise which allows us to make sure your criminal plea does not affect your immigration status. Please contact an experienced criminal defense and immigration lawyer at our firm if you are a non-citizen and are facing a criminal case.