In Padilla v. Kentucky, the U.S. Supreme Court held that it is ineffective assistance of counsel for a criminal defense attorney to fail to advise his client of the direct, adverse, immigration consequences of a guilty plea. For our non-citizen clients, the risk of deportation, or the inability to gain legal status as the result of a conviction, is often a more important consideration than the conviction or sentence. A defendant cannot make an informed decision to plead guilty, without understanding how it will impact his status in this country; and a defense attorney who is unaware of these adverse immigration consequences cannot engage in effective plea bargaining on his client’s behalf. Defense counsel’s lack of familiarity with the immigration consequences of a given plea not only can prejudice his client, but it can also result in a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. The best practice for defense counsel is to work with an attorney who has expertise in both criminal and immigration law.
Over the course of the past 30 years, Mr. Terezakis has earned a reputation for helping defense counsel safely guide their clients through the criminal-immigration minefield. His decades of experience as both a criminal and deportation defense attorney, enables him to not only advise the client of the immigration consequences of a given plea, but also to suggest alternative pleas which may avoid triggering deportation, or which preserve the client’s ability to qualify for discretionary waivers from deportation.
Mr. Terezakis is the Co-Chair, and a founder of, the Association of Deportation Defense Attorneys. He is a past-president of the Nassau County Criminal Courts Bar Association and a former Member of the Board of Directors of the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys. He has also served on the Board of Directors of the Immigration Law Section of the Federal Bar Association. He is a frequent lecturer at Continuing Legal Education seminars sponsored by national and local bar associations. He and the attorneys in his office are fluent in Spanish.