For noncitizen criminal defendants, a guilty sentence often means deportation. For many years, confusion and inconsistency governed the question of whether a criminal defense attorney had a duty to advise a noncitizen defendant on the immigration consequences of a conviction. Before Padilla v. Kentucky, thousands of defendants—especially those who were incarcerated—received no advice on immigration consequences and unknowingly signed pleas that would lead to their deportation. When the landmark Padilla decision was issued, defense attorney reactions ranged from ecstatic celebration to feigned nonchalance to outright panic. Everyone knew that they had just witnessed a revolution in the field of criminal justice, but no one knew when or how the casualties would arrive. Would every attorney be required to learn immigration law? Interpretations of Padilla vary, and many criminal defense attorneys remain uncertain of their obligations under Padilla and how to fulfill them.

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