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It used to be legal for criminal defense attorneys to focus their advice to non-U.S. citizens clients on legal options in the criminal case alone, and to completely ignore any potential impact on their immigration status or deportation risk. Non-U.S. citizens would make legal decisions that resolved their criminal cases, but compromised their status or security in the U.S. Oftentimes, they’re left with little or no recourse to undo the damage their attorney (unknowingly) caused to their immigration status. They deposit their trust in criminal attorneys who advise them without fully understanding their unique needs as non-U.S. citizens.

In 2010, this was supposed to change when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the Padilla vs. Kentucky case. It established that under the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution, non-U.S. citizens must be advised, by their criminal defense lawyer, about the likely immigration consequences of a criminal conviction in order to make a more informed decision.

If you are a non-U.S. citizen, we urge you to learn more about the Padilla vs. Kentucky case, also known as simply “Padilla,” and what it means for you. As it is, there are already so many challenges that non-U.S. citizens face in the United States. But Padilla is not about that; it’s about your rights as a non-U.S. citizen to receive quality legal representation. At STERN Law, we want to inform you about Padilla and how it helps empower non-U.S. citizens to know what your rights truly are. With this knowledge, you can help yourself or a loved one, if ever faced with a criminal arrest.

 

What are non-U.S. citizens’ rights?

In 2010, the Supreme Court of the United States expanded the legal rights of non-U.S. citizens when they decided the Padilla vs. Kentucky case. In their ruling, they established that under the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution, non-U.S. citizens must receive specific and accurate advice by their defense counsel as to the immigration consequences of a criminal conviction. These consequences could include mandatory detention, ineligibility to apply for relief from removal and/or deportation.

This is a very important development because deportation is a severe penalty, and it is intimately related to the criminal process. So if a non-U.S. citizen is misadvised or doesn’t receive advice at all, about the immigration consequences, and they endure deportation or other certain immigration-related penalties, their constitutional rights have been violated. If defense counsel does not take into account clear immigration consequences, the lawyer is therefore ineffective.

Why is it important to understand Padilla?

This information is essential for non-U.S. citizens because many Criminal Defense Attorneys and Public Defenders, even with a basic knowledge of Immigration Law, struggle to understand the consequences to a client’s immigration status. In many cases, criminal defense lawyers provide advice and recommendations that may involve a good case resolution for a U.S. citizen but a completely different outcome for a non-U.S. citizen. When the lawyer doesn’t know that there are more consequences at stake, their client does not see the deficiencies in the advice they are receiving and may make decisions at their peril – risking their future in the U.S.

Don’t settle for a defense attorney who doesn’t have complete immigration law knowledge, without at least a Padilla Consultation.

When you have an attorney with full understanding of the immigration consequences, it allows non-U.S. citizens to make informed decisions that align with their goals for the future. Even though these decisions can be difficult, every person has the right to receive representation that is effective and takes their full circumstances into account. This is especially important in cases where a person’s future can be changed forever.

How can you get Padilla Consulting?

Most Criminal Defense Attorneys can’t predict the long-term consequences that a criminal conviction will have for a client’s immigration status. Experience and familiarity with complex immigration laws and policies are critical values to deliver the right strategy for a client. STERN Law is committed to supporting the Padilla education of Public Defenders and Criminal Defense Attorneys about immigration consequences. We have developed workshops that give defense attorneys the tools they need to ensure the best outcome for their clients, and we will continue this effort because it’s at the core of what we believe. If you have an existing case, we recommend that you ask your existing attorney for Padilla consulting. If you are in the process of hiring an attorney or if you need one in the future, it is important to stay educated about your rights and look for an attorney who understands both criminal and immigration law, otherwise known as “CrImmigration.” At STERN Law, it is also a priority for us to educate non-U.S. citizens about their rights and encourage them to hire a lawyer who fully understands immigration law. If you have a lawyer that needs support on the immigration side of things, at least encourage your lawyer to seek Padilla consulting with STERN Law to stay connected with us for more on this and other immigration topics.

What happens in a Padilla Consult with STERN Law?

Every single client of STERN Law receives a Padilla analysis. If you have an existing case with another law firm, we offer Padilla consults for you and/or your lawyer. Our Padilla consults have a clear objective: deliver the best strategy for the criminal case that aligns with the immigration goals of the client. As a CrImmigration firm, STERN Law has the knowledge and experience in both criminal and immigration law, which allow us to evaluate every case as a whole.

We will investigate and understand all aspects of the client’s immigration status and criminal history, we determine with the client what his/her main goals are, and we will establish what immigration consequences are a possibility. With all this information, we will make a strategy recommendation that we, or a separate Criminal Defense Attorney, can follow to protect the client’s interests and future.

This year marks the 10-year anniversary since the Padilla vs. Kentucky case, and there is still a lot of work to do. We know that many criminal defense attorneys and public defenders work hard to honor the promise of Padilla, but often non-U.S. citizens still receive the wrong advice, and their lives are damaged. We take the lead, and we set the bar high. Immigrants are protected by our U.S. Constitution. We make sure that the courts and their counsel follow the law and treat all people better – starting with immigrants.