Articles Posted in Immigration Law

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Defendant Deicy Urena Ortiz appealed a district court's denial of her motion to withdraw her plea and vacate her misdemeanor conviction. On appeal, she contended her plea was not knowing because the court did not advise her of its potential adverse immigration consequences. Defendant had been a lawful resident of the United States since 2002. In 2007, she was charged with the class A misdemeanor of shoplifting. She appeared before the district court and entered a plea of nolo contendere. She was not represented by counsel. Defendant signed a standard acknowledgment and waiver of rights form, which, at the time, contained no acknowledgment of the potential adverse immigration consequences of entering either a guilty or nolo plea. During the plea colloquy, the court did not advise Defendant that her plea could result in adverse immigration consequences. In 2011, the federal government commenced removal proceedings against Defendant, contending that her shoplifting conviction constituted "a crime involving moral turpitude," a deportable offense. In response, Defendant filed a motion to withdraw her plea and vacate her conviction. In her motion, she argued that her plea was not “knowing” because: (1) the court failed to inform her "that a conviction could subject her to deportation"; and (2) she "was affirmatively misled (albeit innocently) [by the prosecutor] that there would be no such consequences." The State objected. Acknowledging that it did not advise Defendant of the possible immigration consequences of her plea, the court concluded that Defendant raised a "pure issue of law," and, therefore, there was "no need for a hearing on the factual basis for [her] request." The court was not persuaded by Defendant’s argument that "Padilla v. Kentucky" (130 S. Ct. 1473 (2010)) supported her appeal. Accordingly, the court denied the motion. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded that because immigration consequences are collateral, the court’s failure here to advise Defendant of them did not render her nolo contendere plea unknowing. View "New Hampshire v. Ortiz" on Justia Law