Padilla vs. Kentucky – Knowing the Full Consequences of a Plea Deal



Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project Image:

Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project

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.


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About Christopher Stender

After working for three years as Assistant Chief Counsel for the San Diego District of the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service, Christopher Stender launched a law partnership in 1993. Initially known as Stender & Larkin, the firm was renamed Stender & Associates, PC. Christopher Stender and his team of bilingual associates provide comprehensive immigration-related legal services, working with individuals held at Arizona’s detention centers and prisons in Eloy and Florence, as well as at California’s detention centers in El Centro, San Diego, and San Pedro. Christopher Stender assists in bond procurement and payment, visitation and hearing scheduling, and detainee transportation. He is known for taking tough cases, promoting novel legal theories, and getting positive results for his clients. He routinely appears before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, as well as the First, Fifth, and Eleventh Circuit Courts of Appeals and the Supreme Court of the United States. Prospective clients can read about the immigration process in both English and Spanish on his website. Christopher Stender spent his undergraduate years at the University of Würzburg, Germany, and the University at Buffalo, State University of New York. He earned his Juris Doctor in 1990 from the Syracuse University College of Law. An East Coast native who lived abroad for two years, Christopher Stender has traveled extensively throughout Europe. In addition to his native English, he speaks German and Spanish. He supports Grace Point Church, Homeless Outreach, Cesar Chavez Elementary School, Tijuana Schools Mission, and Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project. He lives with his wife and four children in San Diego.

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