Can vacating your previous guilty plea help you in deportation proceedings?

If you find yourself on the verge of being deported because of a past guilty or no contest plea to a serious criminal offense such as possession of cocaine, then post-conviction relief may be the solution that you have so desperately been waiting for. An experienced Fort Lauderdale Immigration Lawyer may be able to help you vacate or set aside that past conviction, which may make you eligible for various forms of relief immigration, or lead to a complete dismissal of your deportation case.

In Padilla v. Kentucky the United States Supreme Court ruled that when a non U.S. citizen is improperly advised, or not advised at all, of the potential immigration consequences which a plea of guilty or no contest to a criminal charge may have, the conviction may be overturned. If you were not advised of the immigration consequences prior to taking your plea, you may be able to challenge that criminal conviction. Winning such a challenge is no easy task and may require ordering the plea colloquia (the conversation between you and the judge, which is recorded prior to you agreeing to take the plea) or asking your former criminal defense attorney to come in an testify. However, there is a chance that the prosecutors and the judge were so busy, that they simply forgot to advise you of the criminal consequences. Please do keep in mind, that the courts are starting to include the language required to fulfill the immigration consequences warning and that it will become more and more difficult to challenge the conviction based on Padilla v. Kentucky alone.

If Padilla is not the answer, then Matter of Pickering may be the way to. In Matter of Pickering the Court ruled that a prior conviction may be vacated if it is proven that there was some kind of legal defect in the conviction, or in the proceedings underlying the conviction, which ultimately resulted in the conviction being legally invalid. The conviction will not simply be vacated for showing rehabilitation or as a humanitarian gesture to avoid adverse immigration consequences. It is absolutely crucial that the final order of the court vacating the previous conviction does not have any mention of the fact that the conviction is being vacated for the prevention immigration consequences.