“When I was arrested by the Feds on Drug Conspiracy charges, they told me I was facing mandatory life in federal prison without the possibility of parole. I knew that I was innocent, but I was scared . . . so I knew that I would have to find a lawyer who was not afraid of the Feds and would take my case to trial. I chose Greg Robey because he is a fighter. After over 2 weeks in a federal jury trial, I was found Not Guilty of all charges. My family and I am forever grateful to Mr. Robey.” -L.B., Mansfield, Ohio
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the 6th Amendment right to effective counsel includes the right of non-citizens facing criminal charges to be warned that pleading guilty or no contest to a criminal offense could lead to deportation. The court reasoned that the seriousness of deportation for non-citizens makes it effectively a second penalty that results from a guilty/no contest plea, in addition to possible penalties for the underlying criminal offense.
This is a good decision that will protect non-citizens from ineffective lawyers who fail to consider how devastating deportation would be for non-citizens. Too many lawyers fail to listen to their clients and their concerns for their families and their future. The result is that the lawyer fails to really see the case through the client's eyes, and fails to see the larger picture. For a non-citizen, can there really be a penalty much worse than being separated from their family and loved ones because of deportation?
The proper course of action for any criminal defense lawyer who represents a non-citizen in a criminal case is to have the client also retain a good immigration lawyer. If the client cannot afford this, at bare minimum, the criminal defense lawyer should consult an immigration lawyer or at least have a basic understanding of possible deportation consequences for a non-citizen. An experienced criminal defense lawyer should be able to handle these situations.