A proposed bill that is an initiative of the ISBA's International and Immigration Law Section Council would amend the Code of Criminal Procedure to improve compliance with a current law that requires judges to notify defendants of the immigration consequences of guilty pleas. The current law, found at 725 ILCS 5/113-8, requires judges to advise defendants that a misdemeanor or felony conviction may result in deportation, exclusion from admission to the United States, or denial of naturalization. However, since the law's adoption in 2004, it has been unevenly applied across Illinois courts.
In some cases, the required admonition is simply posted in courtrooms. In others, it may be contained in written agreements in court orders. It has not been uniformly given from the bench.
In 2009, the Supreme Court of Illinois found that the statute was directory, not mandatory. See People v. Del Villar (2009). The court reasoned that because the law does not provide a consequence for non-compliance, it is not truly mandatory.
The proposed legislation will add a consequence for non-compliance to make the law mandatory under the Del Villar standard. A defendant who is not given the admonition and who would risk deportation, exclusion, or denial of naturalization as a result of a guilty plea would be entitled to move to vacate the judgment, withdraw the guilty plea, and instead enter a plea of not guilty. Find out more about this and other ISBA-backed legislative proposals in the February Illinois Bar Journal.