Padilla vs. Kentucky – Knowing the Full Consequences of a Plea Deal
An experienced immigration attorney, Christopher Stender has experience practicing in New York, Arizona, Nevada, and California. Alongside 25 years of private practice, Christopher Stender has worked as an immigration attorney with nonprofits and charitable organizations aiming to provide representation to the most vulnerable. Among these organizations is the Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project.
Among recent Supreme Court rulings regarding the rights of immigrants and noncitizens in the United States, Padilla vs. Kentucky stands out as a victory that had far-reaching impacts. Padilla, a commercial truck driver and legal U.S. resident of Honduran origin, was arrested in Kentucky and charged with trafficking marijuana. Advised by his attorney that he should not worry about a conviction affecting his immigration status, he took a plea deal and was subject to deportation proceedings.
Padilla appealed his case all the way to the Supreme Court, arguing that his attorney had a duty to inform him of the consequences of the plea under the Sixth Amendment. The court ruled in his favor, stating that attorneys are duty-bound to inform their clients of the risk of deportation whether the law is ambiguous or unambiguous and must provide advice regarding deportation.
For the Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project, this decision meant that they could move resources from their now defunct defending immigrants program, a program that trained immigration attorneys on the immigration consequences of crimes. This freed up greater funds for their pro bono and advocacy programs.