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The Duty of Criminal Defense Attorneys Owed to Foreign National Clients

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in March 2010 that a defendant is entitled as a matter of law to effective assistance of counsel pursuant to the Sixth Amendment and that if the attorney fails to advise his client when a client is considering a plea that such an offense may cause deportation of that individual that attorney has committed an error of the greatest importance. Whereas once there was a narrow class of deportable offenses and judges wielded broad discretion area authority to prevent deportation, immigration reforms over time have expanded the class of deportable offenses and limit the authority of judges to stop the harsh consequences of deportation. Deportation or removal is now virtually inevitable for a vast number of non-citizens convicted of crimes. Therefore, it is incumbent upon each criminal defense attorney representing a foreign national to adequately advise that client as to whether or not the conviction may result in his or her deportation. 

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