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OPINION LETTERS/
PADILLA CONSULTING

Attorney LaGrone regularly consults with individual criminal

defense attorneys who are unfamiliar with immigration. She is

one of the crimmigration experts in Atlanta and has often spoken on

national panels. She will analyze your client’s case and the immigration

consequences to your client and then issue an opinion letter. This

careful and strategic analysis helps the criminal defense attorney

and their client make an informed and calculated decision on how

to move forward with the case.

These consultations are often needed because of a U.S. case

called Padilla v. Kentucky (2010). In this case seven Justices held

that important consequences such as deportation flowing

automatically from the criminal conviction were part of defense

counsel’s responsibility to advise under the Sixth Amendment.

In Padilla v. Kentucky, 559 U.S. 356 (2010), the Supreme Court

considered the case of a longtime lawful permanent resident

who pleaded guilty to a drug trafficking offense in reliance on his

criminal defense attorney’s statement that he would not be deported.

After realizing this advice was incorrect, Mr. Padilla sought to

vacate his conviction based on his Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel.

 

The majority held that, not only was the performance of Mr. Padilla’s

counsel ineffective, but that failure to affirmatively advise a client on

the immigration consequences of a plea falls below the standard of a reasonable attorney. In other words, silence is not sufficient. The Court acknowledged the complexity of immigration law but concluded that

when the immigration consequences of a plea are “truly clear,”

a defense attorney must advise her client of these consequences.

When the consequences are unclear, the attorney must at

least warn the client that a risk of deportation exists.

 

In order to effectively represent your non-u.s. citizen clients,

criminal defense attorneys need to understand a whole new area of law, immigration law. If improper or inadequate advice is provided to

your client, you risk legal action based on Ineffective Assistance of

Counsel claims or malpractice.

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