A gavel on a set of scales

Ohio High Court: Immigrant Can Withdraw Admission Of Guilt

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CLEVELAND (AP) – The Ohio Supreme Court says an immigrant charged with stealing an $80 battery charger can withdraw his admission of guilt because the trial court didn’t warn him that it could lead to deportation.

The 4-3 ruling issued Monday said a state court should have warned the Cleveland man that admitting guilt to enter a pretrial diversion program could hinder attempts at U.S. citizenship. He’s been in the United States legally since 2002.

Issa Kona pleaded not guilty to robbery charges in 2006, then was allowed to apply for diversion and have the charges dismissed after admitting guilt in Cuyahoga (ky-uh-HOH’-guh) County. He tried to reverse that admission after learning it could affect his immigration status.

Prosecutors argued Ohio law didn’t require a warning because Kona didn’t plead guilty or no-contest.