The new California law Penal Code Section 1016.3 was signed by Gov. Brown imposing additional duties on California Criminal Defense Lawyers .
In Padilla v. Kentucky, 559 U.S. 356 (2010), the United States Supreme Court held that the Sixth Amendment requires defense counsel to provide affirmative and competent advice to noncitizen defendants regarding the potential immigration consequences of their criminal cases. California courts also have held that defense counsel must investigate and advise regarding the immigration consequences of the available dispositions, and should, when consistent with the goals of and informed consent of the defendant, and as consistent with professional standards, defend against adverse immigration consequences (People v. Soriano, 194 Cal.App.3d 1470 (1987), People v. Barocio, 216 Cal.App.3d 99 (1989), People v. Bautista, 115 Cal.App.4th 229 (2004)).
Defendants who are misadvised or not advised at all of the immigration consequences of criminal charges often suffer irreparable damage to their current or potential lawful immigration status, resulting in penalties such as mandatory detention, deportation, and permanent separation from close family. In some cases, these consequences could have been avoided had counsel provided informed advice and attempted to defend against such consequences.
The immigration consequences of criminal convictions have a particularly strong impact in California. One out of every four persons living in the state is foreign-born. One out of every two children lives in a household headed by at least one foreign-born person. The majority of these children are United States citizens. It is estimated that 50,000 parents of California United States citizen children were deported in a little over two years. Once a person is deported, especially after a criminal conviction, it is extremely unlikely that he or she ever is permitted to return.
It was the intent of the Legislature to codify Padilla v. Kentucky and related California case law and to encourage the growth of additional case law in furtherance of justice.
Penal Code Section 1016.3
(a) Defense counsel shall provide accurate and affirmative advice about the immigration consequences of a proposed disposition, and when consistent with the goals of and with the informed consent of the defendant, and consistent with professional standards, defend against those consequences.
(b) The prosecution, in the interests of justice, and in furtherance of the findings and declarations of Section 1016.2, shall consider the avoidance of adverse immigration consequences in the plea negotiation process as one factor in an effort to reach a just resolution.
(c) This code section shall not be interpreted to change the requirements of Section 1016.5, including the requirement that no defendant shall be required to disclose his or her immigration status to the court.
Scott D. Hughes is a California Criminal Defense Lawyer practicing in State and Federal Court.