How the Court’s Negligence Could Have an Immigrant Deported
Palm Beach County, Florida has a very large population of immigrants. Immigrants are often the subject of controversial arrests and convictions because of their status in the country. Recently, Julio Adame, an immigrant, has filed a motion to vacate his plea from 13 years ago for the conviction of possession of cocaine.
If you have ever been arrested for the possession of cocaine or for any drug crimes, consult an experienced criminal defense lawyer to help you build your case.
Pleading Nolo Contendere
On February 10, 1997, Julio Adame pleaded nolo contendere for two counts of possession of cocaine. Nolo contendere is a legal term that derives from Latin, meaning “I do not wish to contend.” It is a plea of no contest. If a defendant pleas nolo contendere, he or she neither admits nor disputes a charge, which acts as an alternative to pleading guilty or not guilty.
Generally, pleading nolo contendere has the same immediate effect as a guilty plea, it is usually offered as a part of a plea bargain. In the state of Florida, the state Supreme Court ruled in 2005 that no contest convictions might be treated as prior convictions for the purposes of future sentencing.
This is bad news for Julio Adame because after he was sentenced to 18 months probation, court costs, and fines, Adame learned on June 18, 2010 that he was subject to deportation by the United States Department of Citizenship and Immigration Service.
This is completely outrageous as Adame was never informed by the Court that if he plead guilty or nolo contendere, he would be subject to deportation as according to the law because he is not a United States citizen.
The Court’s Failure to Address the Defendant
Adame is in a precarious position because the Court had failed to address him personally, and make sure he fully understood that if he pleads guilty or nolo contendere, he would be subject to deportation. Adame was completely unaware of the magnitude of the situation, therefore his plea was not fully or voluntarily made.
The acceptance of a plea is extremely important in criminal law; it should not be rushed or underrated. A plea must be voluntary and well informed. In order to plea intelligently, a defendant must understand exactly what he or she has been charged for, and the consequences.
Adame’s plea must absolutely be vacated simply because the Court violated Adame’s right to know and understand the consequences of his actions. Because he was unaware, he may be subject to deportation and his life would be altered forever.