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This past week we were successful in a Motion to Vacate a plea on behalf of a client who in 2012 had entered a plea to domestic violence. This client is a Lawful Permanent Resident, often referred to a green card holder. While the case happened in 2012, the client had not been detained by U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), but had recently learned from his immigration lawyer that when he applies to renew his green card, or when he applies for citizenship, he will almost certainly be placed in removal or deportation proceedings.

When a non-citizen enters a plea to a criminal offense, it is required that they be read an advisement that is found in Ohio Revised Code 2943.031. This immigration warning advises an individual that by entering a plea, they may subject themselves to deportation, exclusion from admission to the United States, or denial of naturalization (citizenship).

If this advisement is not properly given, there is a basic for an individual to withdraw his plea.

It is also required that an individual enter a plea knowingly, intelligently, and voluntary, meaning it can’t be under duress and they must  fully understand what they are doing.  Even if the advisement is given, if an individual enters a plea and is not represented a lawyer, there is a legitimate argument that the plea was not made knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently. Also, if the individual has limited ability to speak and understand English, there is a legitimate argument that the plea was not made knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently.

When an individual is not a citizen of the United States, even if he or she is in the United States lawfully, meaning they have a green card or have a work or student visa for example, there can be many consequences to a criminal conviction, especially a criminal conviction that is considered a crime of moral turpitude. Additionally, even if the person is not deported as a result of the conviction, they may  be unable to renew their green card or visa, thus putting them in a situation where they cannot remain the United States, even if their family is here. They may also be unable to get back into the United States if they leave.

Having a criminal defense lawyer who understands these immigration concerns is key, and if there is a need to re-evaluate and try to reopen a case after conviction, we can do that too.