Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Advice On Immigration Consequences Of Guilty Plea Deemed Sufficient

The Minnesota Supreme Court affirmed a decision to deny a motion to withdraw a guilty plea

This case requires us to determine the extent of a criminal-defense attorney’s obligation under the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution to inform a noncitizen defendant of the immigration consequences of a guilty plea. The appellant, Francisco Herrera Sanchez, pleaded guilty to third-degree criminal sexual conduct, Minn. Stat. § 609.344, subd. 1(b) (2016), which led to the initiation of removal proceedings against him. In an effort to avoid deportation, Sanchez filed an emergency motion to withdraw his guilty plea, in which he argued, in part, that his counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to accurately inform him that the plea would lead to his removal from the United States. The postconviction court denied Sanchez’s motion to withdraw the plea, and the court of appeals affirmed. Because Sanchez’s counsel accurately advised him about the immigration consequences of his plea, we also affirm.

The court

...even if Padilla leaves open the possibility that a criminal-defense attorney has a constitutional obligation to review relevant case law and administrative interpretations before providing advice to a noncitizen defendant contemplating a guilty plea, Padilla did not require Sanchez’s counsel to do anything more than provide a general warning about the immigration consequences of entering the plea. If the obligation of Sanchez’s counsel was limited to reading and interpreting the relevant immigration statutes, then we reach the same conclusion: the statutes were not sufficiently clear to impose an obligation on counsel to do anything more than he did. Either way, Sanchez’s counsel satisfied his obligation under the Sixth Amendment.

(Mike Frisch)

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