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Criminal Convictions in Immigration Law

Criminal defendants seek to minimize possible time in prison and often desire to avoid a risky trial. However, a plea bargain or a plea of no contest may make the defendant deportable or excludable from the United States. For years defendants who had been advised by their criminal attorney to plead guilty or nolo to a crime in order to get the best deal from the criminal law point of view, were shocked to learn that their plea resulted in them being deportable or excludable. In 2010, the US Supreme Court ruled in Padilla v. Kentucky, 130 S. Ct. 1473 (2010) that a criminal attorney failure to advise a non citizen client the immigration consequence of entering a plea is ineffective assistance of counsel.  This ineffective assistance of counsel could be a constitutional basis to set aside guilty plea and conviction.

Not all convictions will make a defendant excludable. The following convictions are not a basis for exclusion:

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