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Padilla v. Kentucky

Supreme Court of the United States

October 13, 2009, Argued; March 31, 2010, Decided

No. 08-651


 [*359] Justice Stevens delivered  [****6] the opinion of the Court.

Petitioner Jose Padilla, a native of Honduras, has been a lawful permanent resident of the United States for more than 40 years. Padilla served  [***290]  this Nation with honor as a member of the U. S. Armed Forces during the Vietnam War. He now faces deportation after pleading guilty to the transportation of a large amount of marijuana in his tractor-trailer in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.1

 [**1478] In this postconviction proceeding, Padilla claims that his counsel not only failed to advise him of this consequence prior to his entering the plea, but also told him that he “ 'did not have to worry about immigration status since he had been in the country so long.' " 253 S. W. 3d 482, 483 (Ky. 2008). Padilla relied on his counsel's erroneous advice when he pleaded guilty to the drug charges that made his deportation virtually mandatory. He alleges that he would have insisted on going to trial if he had not received incorrect advice from his attorney.

Assuming the truth of his allegations, the Supreme Court of Kentucky  [****7] denied Padilla postconviction relief without the benefit of an evidentiary hearing. The court held that the Sixth Amendment's guarantee of effective assistance of counsel does not protect a criminal defendant from erroneous advice about deportation because it is merely a “collateral” consequence  [*360]  of his conviction. Id., at 485. In its view, neither counsel's failure to advise petitioner about the possibility of removal, nor counsel's incorrect advice, could provide a basis for relief.

We granted certiorari, 555 U.S. 1169, 129 S. Ct. 1317, 173 L. Ed. 2d 582 (2009), to decide whether, as a matter of federal law, Padilla's counsel had an obligation to advise him that the offense to which he was pleading guilty would result in his removal from this country. We agree with Padilla that constitutionally competent counsel would have advised him that his conviction for drug distribution made him subject to automatic deportation. Whether he is entitled to relief depends on whether he has been prejudiced, a matter that we do not address.

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559 U.S. 356 *; 130 S. Ct. 1473 **; 176 L. Ed. 2d 284 ***; 2010 U.S. LEXIS 2928 ****; 78 U.S.L.W. 4235; 22 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 211


Subsequent History: On remand at, Remanded by Padilla v. Commonwealth, 381 S.W.3d 322, 2012 Ky. App. LEXIS 193 (Ky. Ct. App., 2012)


Commonwealth v. Padilla, 253 S.W.3d 482, 2008 Ky. LEXIS 3 (Ky., 2008)

Disposition: Reversed and remanded.


deportation, advice, guilty plea, removal, immigration law, immigration, Sixth Amendment, misadvice, alien, advise, criminal conviction, noncitizen, collateral consequence, sentencing, immigration consequences, defense counsel, courts, aggravated felony, matters, convictions, criminal defense attorney, collateral, Guidebook, involving moral turpitude, criminal defense, federal court, cases, warn, narcotics offense, moral turpitude

Immigration Law, Deportation & Removal, Relief From Deportation & Removal, Cancellation of Removal, Grounds for Deportation & Removal, Criminal Activity, Controlled Substance Offenses, General Overview, Criminal Law & Procedure, Counsel, Effective Assistance of Counsel, Pleas, Constitutional Law, Fundamental Rights, Criminal Process, Assistance of Counsel, Tests for Ineffective Assistance of Counsel