In the past month, we successfully vacated two criminal convictions for our clients, and as a result, their deportation-removal proceedings will be terminated.
One client lost his Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”), because his defense attorney failed to warn him that pleading guilty to a second misdemeanor would render him removable. After pleading guilty, the client was placed into removal proceedings. After we filed a 440 Motion with the Criminal Court, the Judge granted our motion to vacate his conviction, finding that prior counsel’s failure to warn our client of the direct immigration consequences of his guilty plea, violated the Supreme Court’s decision in Padilla v. Kentucky, which requires defense attorneys to warn their clients of the immigration consequences of a proposed guilty plea. The Criminal Court Judge found defense counsel’s ineffective assistance prevented our client from making an informed decision on whether to plead guilty. Our client is now eligible to reapply for Temporary Protected Status, and we will be moving the Immigration Court to terminate his removal proceedings.
In the second case, we vacated our client’s conviction which was entered before the Padilla case was even decided – something that is far more difficult to do. Our client, a Lawful Permanent Resident, pleaded guilty to a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude within the first five (5) years of his admission to the U.S., which triggered his removability. After carefully reviewing the criminal court file, and the plea and sentencing minutes, we discovered a legal error in the court proceedings, which served as a basis to vacate our client’s conviction. We then negotiated with the District Attorney’s Office to plead to a lesser charge, and as a result, he is no longer removable. Not only were we able to save our client from deportation, but he is now eligible to apply become a naturalized citizen.
Our collective experience in the criminal-immigration field allows us to advance creative legal arguments which win even the most difficult cases, cases other attorneys have simply written off as “hopeless”.