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Padilla vs. Kentucky and What It Means for Immigrants Accused of Crimes

1330873_courthouse.jpgIn Padilla vs. Kentucky, the Supreme Court granted immigrants facing removal proceedings detention rights and protections that were much anticipated by immigration lawyer. This new ruling, requires defense attorney to properly advise their immigrant clients of the potential immigration consequences of pleading guilty to a crime.

This new ruling now requires criminal defense attorney to know more than just criminal law. They now have to understand the immigration consequences of a crime. It is not uncommon for immigration lawyer and criminal defense lawyer to work together on immigration cases. If you are an immigrant facing criminal charges, it is not a bad idea to hire both or to at least require that your criminal defense attorney consult with an immigration lawyer.

The Supreme Court passed this ruling because too often, permanent residents (green card holders), initiate their own deportation proceedings when they engage in plea bargaining to secure a less serious punishment for a crime. Thousands of people have been deported after such convictions.

Padilla vs. Kentucky means immigrants who enter plea agreements must be aware all of the consequences involved. All citizens, including immigrants, have a right to competent legal counsel. Padilla vs. Kentucky expands on what it means to have “competent legal counsel” because the case finding tell us that not getting the proper warnings means the accused did not get effective counsel.

Padilla has continued to challenge states around the country. On April 6th, 2011, The Third District Court of Appeals in Florida, held that generic warnings about the possibility of deportation are not sufficient to cure prejudice in a mandatory deportation case — immigrants must be warned with specificity. The Court also held that Padilla cannot be applied retroactively in post-conviction proceedings (Hernandez c. Florida). Under this holding, this means that those who did not get “competent legal counsel” before Padilla do not have a remedy.

These mandatory warning provisions are a welcome change in the law. Immigrants should know that their admissions to guilt can potentially cause separation from their family and/or remove them from the U.S. indefinitely.


Daniella Lyttle resolves immigration concerns for individuals and businesses. She represents clients in all areas of immigration law, including family-based immigration and employment-based immigration. If you have immigration questions, we have answers. You can call 24/7 at (512) 329-2770. Our Immigration Law Firm is located in Austin, Texas. Our firm serves primarily clients in Travis County, Williamson County, Hays County and Bastrop County, including Austin, Round Rock, San Marcos, Georgetown, Cedar Park, Leander, Lakeway, Westlake, Pflugerville, Bastrop, Kyle, Wimberely, Buda, Lago Vista, and Dripping Springs. However, we offer telephonic consultations and we can help clients all over Texas and throughout the world.