US Sixth Amendment extended ensuring that immigrants have a constitutional right to be told by their lawyers whether pleading guilty to a crime could lead to their deportation, the Supreme Court said Wednesday.
The high court’s ruling extends the Constitution’s Sixth Amendment guarantee of ”effective assistance of counsel” in criminal cases to immigration advice, especially in cases that involve deportation.
”The severity of deportation — the equivalent of banishment or exile — only underscores how critical it is for counsel to inform her noncitizen client that he faces a risk of deportation,” said Justice John Paul Stevens, who wrote the opinion for the court.
”It is our responsibility under the Constitution to ensure that no criminal defendant — whether a citizen or not — is left to the ‘mercies of incompetent counsel,”’ Stevens said in writing for the court.
”To satisfy this responsibility, we now hold that counsel must inform her client whether his plea carries a risk of deportation,” Stevens wrote. ”Our long-standing Sixth Amendment precedents, the seriousness of the deportation as a consequence of a criminal plea, and the concomitant impact of deportation on families living lawfully in this country demand no less.”
The case is Padilla v. Kentucky, 08-651, read more here.