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Immigration Law

CA2 on Duty of Court to Warn of Immigration Consequences: U.S. v. Gonzales

U.S. v. Gonzales - "Defendant‐Appellant Winifredo Gonzales appeals from a judgment of conviction in the United States District Court for the Western District of New York (Geraci, C.J.), arguing that his guilty plea was not knowingly entered. During the colloquy in which the District Court accepted his plea, the court did not inform Gonzales, a lawful permanent resident of the United States, of the serious potential immigration consequences of his plea. These consequences included likely removal from the United States. The plea agreement, too, did not mention those consequences. In its omission at the colloquy, the District Court violated Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(b)(1)(O). Months later, at sentencing, having learned through the Presentence Report that he would likely be removed after serving his sentence, Gonzales himself addressed the court and complained that he had not known about those consequences when he entered his plea. The District Court acknowledged Gonzales’s concern but took no action to remedy the earlier oversight or to inquire further. Because the court’s failure to inform Gonzales of the immigration consequences of his plea before accepting his plea violated Gonzales’s substantial rights, we VACATE the judgment of the District Court and REMAND the cause for further proceedings consistent with this opinion."