In the landmark case Padilla vs. Kentucky, the U.S. Supreme Court set a high bar for attorneys representing immigrant clients in criminal matters. Padilla was a green card holder, and his attorney had advised him that taking a guilty plea for drug trafficking "may" result in his deportation. However, the immigration consequences of the plea were unambiguous in that particular situation; that guilty plea was certain to result in his deportation. The Court found that the attorney had a duty to advise his client that he would be deported if he took the plea.
It is difficult for a good criminal defense attorney to have time to keep up with the changing immigration laws. More and more attorneys are protecting themselves from malpractice by requiring their clients to obtain opinion letters from immigration attorneys. We are available to provide these letters. In many cases, we also work with criminal defense attorneys to tweak plea agreements to minimize the immigration consequences to their clients.