Practice Advisory: Descamps v. US

IDP and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild have issued a practice advisory on Descamps v. United States, in which the Supreme Court clarified the proper use of the “modified categorical approach” to analyze the immigration and federal sentencing consequences of prior convictions.

The Court squarely rejected a rule adopted by some lower courts (as well as the BIA) that allowed judges to look behind an earlier criminal conviction and impose federal collateral consequences based on “facts” from the underlying court records that the defendant was not necessarily convicted of.

Together with the Court’s recent decision in Moncrieffe v. Holder, the Descamps decision should  allow resort to underlying records in a much smaller number of cases, thus giving immigrant defendants the benefit of their plea bargains.

Our practice advisory covers:

  • the holding in Descamps;
  • the decision’s applicability to immigration law; and
  • the decision’s potential implications for specific removal grounds.