In Commonwealth v. Petit-Homme, the Supreme Judicial Court reversed the denial of the defendant’s motion to withdraw his admission to sufficient facts, because during the defendant’s plea colloquy, the judge failed to give him the warning as to immigration consequences mandated by G.L. c.278, §29D.
The background was as follows. “The defendant … currently faces deportation based in part upon an admission to sufficient facts for a finding of guilty on two counts of assault by means of a dangerous weapon. During the plea colloquy conducted in connection with that admission, the judge warned the defendant about certain ‘practically inevitable’ immigration consequences that would arise if the defendant did not have United States citizenship and ‘if … the crime admitted to is one that presumptively mandates removal from the United States’ (emphasis added), as required by Mass. R. Crim. P. 12(c)(3)(A)(iii)(b). The judge neglected, however, to recite the following, more general words of warning prescribed by G.L. c.278, §29D: ‘If you are not a citizen of the United States, you are hereby advised that the acceptance by this court of your plea of guilty, plea of nolo contendere, or admission to sufficient facts may have consequences of deportation, exclusion from admission to the United States, or denial of naturalization, pursuant to the laws of the United States.’ The same statute requiring oral delivery of this warning at all criminal plea colloquies further provides: ‘If the court fails so to advise the defendant, and he later at any time shows that his plea and conviction may have or has had one of the enumerated consequences, … the court, on the defendant’s motion, shall vacate the judgment and permit the defendant to withdraw the plea of guilty, plea of nolo contendere, or admission of sufficient facts, and enter a plea of not guilty.’…. [O]ne and one-half years after the plea colloquy, following the commencement of deportation proceedings, the defendant [filed a motion] to withdraw [his] admission based on the contention that the judge failed to provide the statutory warning.” The motion was denied and the defendant appealed. Continue reading →