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March 12, 2011

Ninth Circuit permits withdrawal of plea based on Padilla and immigration concerns

The Ninth Circuit has an interesting opinion concerning the withdrawal of pleas in US v. Bonilla, No. 09-10307 (9th Cir. March 11, 2011) (available here), which relies heavily on the Supreme Court's important Sixth Amendment ruling last Term in Padilla v. Kentucky.  Here is how the Bonilla opinion begins:

Jose Hernandez Bonilla, Jr. appeals the district court’s denial of his pre-sentencing motion to withdraw his guilty plea.  Bonilla pled guilty to possession of an unregistered firearm and to being a felon in possession of a firearm.  He has been a lawful permanent resident of the United States for over thirty years; his wife and two children are all U.S. citizens.  When shortly after he had entered his plea Bonilla was for the first time informed that he would be deported on the basis of his plea, he moved to withdraw it, asserting that he would not have pled had he known about the immigration consequences.  We hold that the district court’s denial of Bonilla’s motion to withdraw his plea was an abuse of its discretion.

March 12, 2011 at 11:28 AM | Permalink


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Good for him, I guess, but given that the proof in felon in possession cases (i.e., "felon" and "possession") is usually pretty straightforward, he is probably still hosed. Now he'll get convicted of that, plus possibly whatever more serious charges he plea-bargained down from, likely spend extra time in prison (no acceptance of responsibility, etc.), and *then* get deported.

Posted by: Anon | Mar 14, 2011 10:17:18 AM

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