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Q: For more than forty years, I have been a lawful permanent resident of this country.  As a member of the armed forces during the Vietnam War, I served with honor.  But recently, I was arrested.  Supposedly, I was transporting a large amount of marijuana in my tractor-trailer.

During the discussions about a plea bargain, my lawyer assured me that I did not have to worry about my immigration status, since I had been in this country for so long.  I relied on his advice and pled guilty.  Now it turns out that my conviction for drug distribution makes me subject to automatic deportation.  If I had received correct advice, I would have insisted on going to trial.

A: The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives you the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury.  You are entitled to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation, to be confronted with the witnesses against you, to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in your favor, and to have the effective assistance of counsel for your defense.

As a matter of federal law, deportation is an integral part of the penalty that may be imposed upon a noncitizen who pleads guilty to drug trafficking.  Your lawyer could easily have determined that your plea would make you eligible for deportation, simply from reading the text of the applicable statute: it specifically commands deportation for all controlled-substances convictions (with minor exceptions).  By all means, find a new attorney to help you evaluate whether you should withdraw your plea.

By: Scott Baron,
Attorney at Law Advertorial

The law responds to changed conditions; exceptions and variations abound. Here, the information is general; always seek out competent counsel. This article shall not be construed as legal advice.

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