The Washington Supreme Court has unanimously voided a guilty plea by a Grant County man, saying his lawyer gave him bad advice about its immigration consequences.
Permanent legal resident Valentin Sandoval pleaded guilty to third-degree rape in 2006 after his lawyer told him he could work later whether he'd be deported to Mexico. In reality, his guilty plea made him automatically deportable.
The justices said that advice violated the Sixth Amendment's guarantee of the right to effective assistance from a lawyer. They cited a U.S. Supreme Court ruling from last year which held that if immigration law is clear, a defense attorney must correctly advise the defendant that pleading guilty to a particular charge would lead to deportation.