Earlier this month, a defendant in Massachusetts asked a court of appeals to overturn his conviction for possession of a class B substance with intent to distribute. On appeal, the defendant argued that his previous attorney had not properly advised him of the immigration consequences that he would face if he entered a guilty plea. If he had known these consequences, said the defendant, he would not have pled guilty in the first place. The court of appeals reviewed the defendant’s argument and ultimately agreed with him, reversing the lower court’s verdict as a result.
Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, the defendant came to the United States from Guatemala as a child. Because the defendant’s parents had neglected him in Guatemala, the defendant applied for a special immigration status called “Special Immigration Juvenile” status, which allows immigrants whose parents have mistreated them to gain status in the States.
While the defendant was awaiting a decision from the judge on his Special Immigration Juvenile status case, he was charged with drug possession after an officer found him with crack cocaine. The defendant received a court-appointed attorney to help him navigate the criminal case, and that attorney failed to mention to the defendant that if he pled guilty to the crime, he would no longer be eligible for the Special Immigration Juvenile status he had been working so hard to get.