Criminal Immigration Attorneys

Criminal cases impact immigration status.  The crossover between criminal cases and immigration consequences cannot be understated.  For many years the criminal courts and criminal defense attorneys were not aware of the devastating immigration consequences that a criminal conviction might cause.  Several years ago the U.S. Supreme Court addressed the issue of accurate immigration advice for criminal defendants in Padilla v. Kentucky.  The Supreme Court ruled that a non-citizen criminal defendant is entitled to effective defense counsel pursuant to the Sixth Amendment.  The defendant is entitled to receive accurate advice regarding how their criminal case can affect the immigration status.

Pursuant to Padilla, criminal defense attorneys must provide legal representation that meets the recognized professional standards.  As a part of all criminal defense representations, each criminal defense lawyer must determine the citizenship or U.S. immigration status of all of their criminal clients.  Most importantly, a competent criminal defense attorney should investigate the immigration consequences of the case and advise their client.  If the consequences are clear, the Cleveland defense attorney must tell their client what those consequences are.  If the consequences are not so clear, then the criminal immigration defense lawyer merely must tell the defendant there are “risks” to their immigration status.

Excellent criminal defense lawyers won’t stop with just telling their clients there is just a “risk.”  Those criminal  immigration defense attorneys who know their client will have some sort of consequences will reach out to a Cleveland immigration lawyer like us at Hammond Law Group.  They’ll have us review the non-citizen’s immigration history, their criminal history and advise them how the charges would impact their lives.  Most of the time criminal defense attorneys will negotiate an amendment to the charges; a plea bargain.  Crimmigration attorneys will advise the client on how the amendment and the “new” charges impact that client.  This is the “informed consideration” of immigration consequences the Supreme Court encouraged in Padilla.

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions for those going through the criminal process:

  • Driving Under the Influence (DUI) will cause immigration issues including visa revocation, denials of waivers, naturalization applications and other benefits.
  • Diversion programs can be considered convictions for immigration purposes.
  • Marijuana possession convictions do have substantial immigration consequences even though some states have made it legal.
  • Not all felonies cause deportation or removal.
  • Misdemeanors can, by themselves, cause deportation or removal.

All immigration consequences must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.  This is done by reviewing and analyzing the individual’s immigration history, their criminal history (if any priors) and the text (words) of the law which they are convicted.    Immigration consequences can include the following and even green card holders can be impacted (as they are non-citizens):

It’s your right to have a clear understanding of how the criminal case will impact your life.  The State of Ohio requires criminal court judges to ask each defendant if they understand that pleading guilty or no contest may have an impact on their immigration status.  Section 2943.031 of the Ohio Revised Code. That warning does not encompass all the consequences.  That warning was written in 1989 and the laws and consequences have changed in the past twenty-plus years.  Most other states also have this warning although it may be worded differently.  The federal district courts also have this warning before accepting a plea from a defendant.  Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(b)(1)(O).

The overwhelming theme is that if you’re a non-citizen, you should call us before you plead to anything or before you enter a diversion program.  As well, if you believe that you were not properly advised of the immigration consequences of a criminal conviction, contact us immediately.  There are ways to reopen your case and maybe get you an amended charge that doesn’t hurt your status as much.

At the law firm of Hammond Law Group, LLC, in Cleveland, Ohio, we are here to help non-citizens currently facing criminal charges or who have already pleaded guilty or no contest to a criminal charge and want to explore withdrawing their plea and reopening their case.  Attorney Philip Eichorn routinely speaks on panels both locally and across the country on the intersection of criminal and immigration law which is commonly referred to as crimmigration.   He’s a former prosecutor turned defense lawyer who now uses his experience in the courtrooms and with criminal cases to help foreign nationals either avoid immigration consequences or lessen them.

Please, either as defense counsel or as the individual with the case, contact us at the Hammond Law Group, LLC to discuss your criminal immigration matter before you do anything else.  We want to help you determine the best strategy to help you obtain lawful status and remain in the United States.