April 3, 2001 (SAN FRANCISCO) – The California Supreme Court has ruled that immigrant criminal defendants can withdraw guilty pleas if their lawyers failed to advise them that admitting to a crime would automatically lead to their being deported.
But the 4-3 decision set another requirement, that the defendants must also demonstrate that they have a good chance of acquittal if they go to trial. The ruling came in an appeal by a Mexican national who had lived in the United States for more than 20 years. Hugo Resendiz said his lawyer told him that he would be returned to Mexico if he was convicted at trial and sentenced to prison but did not advise him that pleading guilty to a lesser charge carrying a county jail sentence would also lead to his deportation.
The court found that Resendiz did not show a likelihood of acquittal.
Recent changes in the immigration laws have required deportation for foreign nationals convicted even of minor offenses and even if the offense and plea took place years ago.