Padilla v. Kentucky

Facts of the Case

Petitioner Padilla, a lawful permanent resident of the United States for over 40 years, faces deportation after pleading guilty to drug-distribution charges in Kentucky. In post-conviction proceedings, he claims that his counsel not only failed to advise him of this consequence before he entered the plea, but also told him not to worry about deportation since he had lived


1) Is the mandatory deportation that results from a guilty plea to trafficking in marijuana a collateral consequence that relieves counsel of an affirmative duty to advise his client per the guarantees of the Sixth Amendment?2) Assuming deportation is a collateral consequence, can counsel’s gross misadvice about deportation constitute a ground for setting aside a guilty plea that is induced by that advice?


No. Not answered. The Supreme Court held that counsel must inform a client whether his plea carries a risk of deportation. With Justice John Paul Stevens writing for the majority, the Court reasoned that counsel’s advice with respect to deportation is not categorically removed from the scope of the Sixth Amendment. Here, Mr. Padilla’s Sixth Amendment right to counsel was violated because counsel could have easily determined that a guilty plea would make Mr. Padilla eligible for deportation. The Court did not address whether Mr. Padilla was prejudiced by his counsel’s deficiency and entitled to relief. The Court then remanded the case to the Supreme Court of Kentucky for proceedings consistent with the opinion.Justice Samuel A. Alito, joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts, wrote separately, concurring. He criticized the Court for adopting a halfway standard where defense counsel must advise a client on immigration law when it is succinct and straightforward but not necessarily in other situations. He predicted that this instruction would lead to confusion and needless litigation. Justice Antonin Scalia, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas, also wrote separately, dissenting. He criticized the majority for expanding the text of the Sixth Amendment beyond merely providing the defendant counsel to providing him sound advice about the collateral consequences of conviction. He mused that the Constitution is not an all-purpose tool to create a perfect world.

Case Information

  • Citation: 559 US 356 (2010)
  • Granted: Feb 23, 2009
  • Argued: Oct 13, 2009
  • Decided Mar 31, 2010