State v. Lage
Connecticut General Statutes §54-lj does not require that a defendant realize the likelihood of immigration consequences arising from a plea, but rather that he understands the possibility of them. In 2008, Victor Lage, a permanent resident of the U.S., pleaded guilty to burglary in the third degree and admitted violating his probation for an earlier narcotics conviction. In 2009, he admitted violating his probation for the 2008 conviction and pleaded guilty to criminal trespass, interfering with an officer and criminal mischief. He intended to enter a guilty plea for a suspended sentence predicated on a drug treatment program. During the canvass, the court learned that Lage was subject to a U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer based on his 2008 burglary conviction. The court explained to Lage that this could preclude participation in the program and discussed an alternative sentence. The court canvassed Lage and continued sentencing. When resumed, defense counsel indicated that the immigration bureau intended to detain Lage. The court rendered the alternative sentence of 18 months incarceration without probation. Lage was detained and moved to withdraw and vacate his 2008 and 2009 pleas. The court denied the motion. Lage appealed. The Appellate Court affirmed the judgment. The trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion. The court complied with C.G.S. §54-lj before accepting Lage's 2008 guilty pleas. The defendant claimed that although the court recited the language of C.G.S. §54-lj when it canvassed him, it did not properly determine whether he understood the immigration consequences of his plea. However, C.G.S. §54-lj does not require that a defendant realize the likelihood of immigration consequences arising from a plea, but rather that he understands the possibility of them. There was no reason to believe based on the defendant's responses during the canvass that he did not understand the possible consequences of his plea. No legal authority supported the proposition that the statute's warnings must be delivered separately. Further, the court's explanation of the defendant's waiver of his right to "a trial" in 2008 substantially complied with Practice Book §39-19(5), even though the court did not specifically state that he had the right to a jury trial. The 2008 and 2009 pleas were found properly accepted as knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily entered.