Thanks to some recent Court decisions, certain immigrants who are facing deportation now have a good chance at remaining in the United States. In Lafler v. Cooper, 556 U.S. –––– (2012) and Padilla v. Kentucky, 130 S.Ct. 1473 (2010), the Supreme Court ruled that if a defendant’s attorney fails to accurately advise him of a mandatory deportation consequence stemming from a guilty plea, his Sixth Amendment right to effective counsel has been violated and there can be a right to a new trial.
In a brand new case, United States v. Akinsade (2012), the appellant was facing deportation for his role in embezzling money from a bank. Akinsade, having the option to accept a guilty plea or take his case to trial, asked his attorney on multiple occasions if deportation was possible if he accepted the plea. His attorney assured him that it was not a possibility, so Akinsade accepted the plea. Nine years later, immigration authorities arrested and detained him, and informed him that he was facing deportation as an aggravated felon. He filed a petition for writ of error coram nobis in federal court which, eventually, vacated his sentence.
Fairlie & Lippy handled a very similar case last month, wherein the appellant was facing deportation after heeding the erroneous advice of his prior counsel regarding the possibility of deportation. Our client committed a crime of “moral turpitude,” accepted a plea bargain in which his previous attorney advised him that he was not likely to be deported, and subsequently was placed in deportation proceedings (Immigration and Customs Enforcement regulations mandate deportation for crimes of moral turpitude). In the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas, we successfully argued the applicability of Padilla, and our client’s conviction was vacated. If you know of a similar case please do not hesitate to contact us for a free consultation.