Plea Withdrawal Where Immigration Consequence Was Not Explained
In People v. Valdez, 2015 IL App (3d) 120892 (May 19, 2015) an Illinois Appellate court held that it was an error to deny a non-citizen Defendant’s guilty plea withdrawal where his attorney failed to communicate clear immigration consequences. In Valdez, a defendant who was a noncitizen pled guilty to burglary predicated on theft. The Appellate Court held that it was an error to deny the Defendant’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea. The immigration consequences of the plea were clear, as this was an aggravated felony. The attorney failed to meet his duty to advise Defendant that an aggravated felony is a mandatory ground of deportation. The court found that the Defendant was prejudiced by his attorney’s deficiencies.
Additionally, the prejudice was not cured by court’s immigration admonishments under Section 725 ILCS 5/113-8 of the Illinois Code, as that section warns only that potential immigration consequences may occur, but in this case, deportation for an aggravated felony was mandatory. Defendant established reasonable probability that, had he known that deportation was “practically inevitable”, he would have rejected the guilty plea and proceeded to trial. The court determined that the plea withdrawal should have been allowed.
Valdez demonstrates the importance of having an attorney well versed in immigration law advise on the consequences of a criminal case prior to and even after a plea of guilty.
The experienced attorneys at Godoy Law Office, can provide conviction relief for legal permanent residents and undocumented immigrants who are not warned of the immigration consequences or deportation risks of a criminal plea.