PEOPLE V. PATTERSON: THE CALIFORNIA SUPREME COURT, IMMIGRATION ADVICE, AND YOU
By Albert Camacho and Graciela Martinez*
As we all know, criminal defense lawyers are required to properly advise their clients about the potential immigration consequences of any plea in a criminal proceeding. The California Supreme Court has provided counsel with another reminder of this requirement in the case of People v. Patterson.1 In order to fully understand Patterson, the starting point is the United States Supreme Court’s ruling on this issue, so a quick review of Padilla v. Kentucky2 would be in order. Padilla holds that:
Therefore, in situations where deportation is clearly mandated, Padilla requires defense counsel to advise as such.
That unfortunately did not happen in Patterson. Patterson, a Canadian citizen who has resided in the United States since 1996, was charged in a nine-count4 complaint and at the preliminary hearing entered pleas to the felony evading charge and felony possession of ecstasy.5 Patterson was granted felony probation and ordered to serve 180 days in custody, servable on a work release program, as he was a registered nurse.6 Six months after the plea, Patterson sought to have the plea withdrawn pursuant to Penal Code section 1018,7 stating that at the time of the plea he did not know, and his counsel did not advise, that the plea to the possession of ecstasy charge would render him deportable due to the fact that it was a controlled substance conviction.8