On October 30, 2015, the Supreme Court of Virginia issued a new rule to trial judges in Virginia, requiring them to advise defendants, before accepting guilty pleas, that their conviction may result in deportation, exclusion from admission to the United States, or inability to naturalize.

Many Offenses Can Lead to Deportation 

For many years, immigrants caught up in the criminal justice system were either inadequately advised regarding the immigration consequences of conviction, or were not advised at all on the issue.  Often, what may seem to be an excellent resolution of a case from a criminal defense perspective may actually be an extremely unfavorable outcome from an immigration perspective.  Convictions for relatively minor offenses, such as petit larceny, driving under the influence, or possession of marijuana, may lead to deportation or inability to naturalize.  Unfortunately for many immigrants, this news can often come too late in the process.

In 2010, the United States Supreme Court took a major step towards addressing this problem, holding in Padilla v. Kentucky that it amounts to ineffective assistance of counsel for a criminal defense attorney to fail to advise his client that his conviction will result in deportation.

What Has Changed about Immigrant Deportation and the Justice System in Virginia?

Now, under the latest rule issued to trial judges in Virginia, judges will also be required to ask defendants the following before accepting a guilty plea:

Do you understand that if you are not a citizen of the United States and if you plead guilty or are found to be guilty, there may be consequences of deportation, exclusion of admission into the United States, or denial of naturalization pursuant to the laws of the United States?

Is Notifying Defendants that a Guilty Plea Could Lead to Deportation Enough?

While this rule is a step in the right direction, much more is needed to properly protect the rights of immigrants in criminal proceedings.  Public defender offices and court appointed attorneys need additional resources and training to be able to adequately and properly advise their clients on immigration consequences of convictions.  Nonetheless, by requiring trial judges to inquire whether a defendant understands that conviction could lead to serious adverse immigration consequences, this new rule will at least provide immigrant defendants with that critical information before a guilty plea is entered.

Let Greenspun Shapiro PC Fight For You

If you or a loved one is an immigrant who has been charged with a crime, contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Greenspun Shapiro PC today. Let’s discuss your legal issues and needs during an initial consultation. You can schedule this meeting with one of our Fairfax criminal defense attorneys by calling 703-352-0100 or by emailing us using the contact form. From our Fairfax law office, we provide superior legal services to our clients throughout Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C.

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