The Supreme Court's recent decision in Padilla v. Kentucky requires defense attorneys to advise their clients on the immigration consequences of pleading guilty. To help attorneys advise their clients, Columbia Law School has created a web-based "collateral consequences calculator." A user simply selects a Penal Law charge and the website returns a report about immigration and public housing consequences for a conviction of that crime.
I played around with the calculator a bit this morning. It seems like a valuable tool, although I still prefer the simple and easy-to-use reference charts from the New York State Defenders Association's Immigrant Defense Project. Although the Columbia site adds public housing information, no appellate court has yet to hold that attorneys have a duty to advise clients that their guilty pleas may impact their ability to obtain NYCHA housing and, given the Court of Appeals' recent decision on collateral consequences, I don't see it happening anytime soon. In any event, regardless of whether it is constitutionally required or not, it is important to know that certain convictions can trigger almost certain eviction from public housing (however, there are escape-valve provisions that allow public housing residents to plead for an exception to the rule). For some clients, structuring the right guilty plea may enable them to avoid becoming homeless. (LC)