How does a criminal conviction affect my Immigration Status? What if I was convicted many years ago, and only now the INS has informed me that I am subject to deportation?Posted on: July 23, 2007 at 8:55 a.m.
Criminal convictions may cause direct and grave consequences to someone's immigration status. The INS guidelines are very detailed and complex, and the Criminal Law Blog frequently confers with immigration law specialists to properly advise its clients. Before any plea-bargaining is done, the Law Blog discusses with clients their immigration status. Often the Law Blog will seek charges that are not considered by the INS as moral turpitude offenses (ie. subject to deportation), and to convert any possible custody time to community service work.
In Los Angeles, the L.A. County Sheriff's Department responsible for running the jails verifies immigration status upon receiving an inmate. As a result, as soon as an inmate is in custody (even if charges are later dismissed), an "immigration hold" may be placed subjecting him or her to deportation proceedings. As a result, the inmate may be deported from the United States after the INS picks the inmate up from Sheriff's custody. The saddest part is that the inmate may be innocent of all charges, and still be deported because his immigration status is questionable.
Deportation is preventable. If a defendant has financial resources, it is important to bail out immediately after an arrest. In Los Angeles County, a defendant is tranferred into Sheriff's custody from the arresting agency's jail within 48 hours of arrest, which is typically right after the arraignment. Subsequently, a criminal disposition may be reached in court without jail time. An immigration hold in Sheriff's jail is avoided, as the accused is out on bail and his immigration status is typically not checked within the court system.
Another issue frequently encountered with Immigration and Criminal Court: An old conviction has raises a red flag with the INS, causing the agency to start deporation proceedings 10-15 years later, against someone who has led a trouble-free life for many years, working, raising a family, and being an overall model citizen. The Criminal Law Blog's Attorneys have represented numerous clients in this situation. There are numerous legal mechanisms to vacate a prior conviction, including using a "Writ of Corum Nobis". The typical argument to attack the conviction focuses on explaining to the court why the client was not properly advised of immigration consequences at the time of the plea, many years earlier. Another option is to attempt to re-negotiate the old charges with the prosecutor's office, to seek an agreement that the crime of moral turpitude dismissed, and substitute in its place an offense that is more innocuous in the eyes of the INS.
Los Angeles Criminal Lawyers must examine immigration consequences of every plea deal, before advising a client to take it.
Tagged as: california criminal laws, immigration consequences
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