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Attorney General Jason R. Ravnsborg

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Attorney General Jackley Joins Challenge to Support Validity of Plea Resulting in Deportation of Noncitizen

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:    Tuesday, March 14, 2017   
CONTACT:  Sara Rabern (605) 773-3215   

PIERRE, S.D. – Attorney General Marty Jackley has joined an amicus brief filed in the United States Supreme Court by 20 Attorneys General in support of the United States in Lee v. United States. The case involves a noncitizen defendant who was charged with possession of ecstasy with intent to distribute. The defendant entered into a guilty plea after he was misadvised by his defense attorney that pleading guilty would not result in deportation. The crime he pled guilty to resulted in mandatory deportation.
“The plea agreement process is an essential part of our criminal justice system,” said Jackley. “It is necessary that we ensure the validity, reliability, and the fairness of every plea agreement, making sure that a defendant is not materially prejudiced by the actions of their defense attorney. In this case, the defendant was not prejudiced because illegal status is neither a defense to the charge nor gives rise to circumstances that would avoid deportation.”
The brief argues that the lower Court correctly determined that the petitioner was not prejudiced by his attorney’s incorrect advice about the immigration consequences of his plea. The evidence of his guilt was “overwhelming” and “nothing in the record” suggested that he had the option to enter any plea without immigration consequences.