In 2012, police arrested Javier Garcia-Navarro, a legal resident, on drug trafficking charges. He pled guilty because his attorney told him that it was his best chance at probation. The attorney said that if he only got probation, immigration officials may not flag his case. If the judge sentenced him to prison after trial, however, the sentence “essentially guaranteed” deportation.
Challenging the conviction
Garcia-Navarro ended up serving two years, and immigration officials deported him some time later. He asked the court to overturn his conviction, claiming that if he had known all drug trafficking convictions result in deportation, he would have fought the charges at trial. He argued that the court should vacate his conviction, or wipe it from his record, under Padilla v. Kentucky.
The U. S. Supreme Court
The U.S. Supreme Court case Padilla v. Kentucky states that an attorney must tell his client if a conviction, even one reached by a guilty plea, will likely result in deportation. Padilla had been a legal resident since the 1960’s. Police charged him with marijuana trafficking in 2002 and he pled guilty because his attorney wrongly told him that immigration officials would not deport him since he had been living in the U.S. for so long. The Supreme Court held that Padilla did not receive adequate legal advice under the Constitution because his attorney failed to tell him of a serious outcome of his guilty plea.
What does this mean in Oregon?
The Oregon Court of Appeals agreed with Garcia-Navarro that Padilla v. Kentucky applied to his case. They sent it back to the post-conviction court with the ruling that Garcia-Navarro had inadequate legal advice because his attorney did not tell him that drug trafficking convictions result in deportation, whether you get probation or prison.
You or a family member may be worried about deportation in today’s climate, especially if you have a criminal conviction on your record. The good news is, the Padilla case allows relief if your trial attorney failed to give you proper advice regarding deportation. If you or a loved one has a conviction that is threatening your immigration status, you may have options to vacate the conviction.