Commonwealth v. Lavrinenko

Defendant, a noncitizen, admitted into the United States as a refugee. Defendant entered a guilty plea to a complaint charging him with, among other counts, assault by means of a dangerous weapon. Thereafter, Defendant filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea to the charge of assault by means of a dangerous weapon on the basis that his attorney did not make a reasonable inquiry regarding Defendant’s citizenship and therefore did not learn that he was a refugee. The motion judge concluded that counsel’s performance was deficient but that Defendant was not prejudiced by the attorney’s deficient performance. The motion judge denied Defendant’s motion for a new trial and motions for reconsideration, holding (1) constitutionally effective representation of a criminal defendant requires defense counsel to make a reasonable inquiry to determine whether the defendant is a citizen of the United States and, if not, to make a reasonable inquiry into the defendant’s immigration status, including whether the defendant was admitted into this country as a refugee; and (2) in determining whether a defendant suffered prejudice from counsel’s deficient performance, “special circumstances” regarding immigration consequences, including a defendant’s status as a refugee or asylee, should be given substantial weight in determining whether the defendant suffered prejudice. Remanded. View "Commonwealth v. Lavrinenko" on Justia Law