In Padilla v. Kentucky, the United States Supreme Court held that criminal defense attorneys must advise their non-citizen clients about the immigration consequences of a guilty plea if such a conviction would expose them to a risk of deportation. 559 U.S. 356 (2010). To not do so would deprive them of their Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel.
What are the consequences of pleading guilty to a criminal conviction if you’re a non-U.S. citizen? First, it depends on your immigration status. Second, it depends on the type of crime or conduct committed.
A non-citizen who has been admitted legally is subject to deportation based on one or more grounds of “deportability.” A non-citizen who has not been admitted to the United States legally is subject to deportation based on grounds of “inadmissibility.”
A non-citizen who has been admitted legally may be subject to deportation based on any of the following:
- Controlled substance offenses (except for a single offense of possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana for personal use)
- Crimes involving moral turpitude (which include, but are not limited to: murder, voluntary manslaughter, kidnapping, mayhem, rape, fraud, spousal abuse, child abuse, incest, assault with intent to commit another specific intent offense, aggravated assault, assault of a child or other vulnerable class, possession of child pornography, driving under the influence without a license, theft, robbery, receiving stolen goods with guilty knowledge, forgery, embezzlement, extortion, perjury and willful tax evasion)
- Aggravated felonies (murder, rape, sexual abuse of a minor, illicit trafficking in a control substance or any other drug trafficking crime, illicit trafficking of firearms, money laundering, “a crime of violence” for which the term of imprisonment is at least one year, theft or burglary for which the term of imprisonment is at least one year, ransom, child pornography, racketeering, gambling, prostitution or human trafficking offenses, fraud or deceit, alien smuggling, forging a passport, failure to appear for service of sentence, obstruction of justice or perjury, failure to appear to answer to a felony where a sentence of two years or more may be imposed, and attempt or conspiracy to commit any of the above)
- Illegal firearm possession, purchase, sale, exchange, use or carrying
- Domestic violence, stalking, child abuse, abandonment or neglect
- Failure to register as a sex offender
- Violating a protective order
- Falsification of immigration documents
A non-citizen who has not been admitted to the United States legally may be subject to deportation based on any of the following:
- Crimes involving moral turpitude (whether the non-citizen has been convicted or if they attempt or conspire to commit such a crime; however, this ground does not apply to offenses for which the maximum possible term of imprisonment is one year or less)
- Controlled substance offenses (including conspiracy or attempt to violate any controlled substance law)
- Multiple criminal convictions (if the aggregate of two or more crimes is 5 years or more in prison)
The idea of being removed or deported from the United States is a scary one, but do not let that keep you from seeking legal help. An experienced attorney can advise you as your situation, your choices, and the immigration consequences of those choices.
If you’ve been charged with a crime and are concerned about the consequences, contact Leslie for a free consultation.
The lists in this posts are not exhaustive and nothing in this post should be construed as a substitute for actual legal advice for your particular situation.