Criminal defence lawyers and immigration- Navigating complex cases

They are a non-citizen is charged with a crime, the criminal justice system laws in complicated ways. This creates many potential pitfalls for non-citizens facing criminal charges.

  1. Bars to immigration relief – Convictions can disqualify non-citizens from applying for status adjustments, waivers of inadmissibility, asylum, naturalization, and other immigration benefits.
  2. Mandatory detention – Those with certain types of convictions are subject to mandatory detention by immigration authorities while removal proceedings are pending.
  3. Bars to establishing good moral character – Criminal history can also prevent a non-citizen from being able to show good moral character, which is required for naturalization and other forms of relief.

As you can see, the immigration penalties for a conviction can be severe. It’s not just felonies or crimes involving moral turpitude that trigger consequences. Even a marijuana possession charge can carry drastic immigration penalties in some cases. A skilled criminal defense attorney has an arsenal of tools for helping non-citizen clients avoid negative immigration consequences. These include:

  • Plea bargaining – Negotiating a plea to a non-deportable offense or one that doesn’t trigger other immigration penalties.
  • Avoiding a conviction – In certain cases, a disposition without a formal finding of guilt may be possible, such as a deferred adjudication. This can avoid triggering deportation or other immigration consequences.
  • Arguing immigration-safe pleas – Some courts are open to crafting immigration-neutral pleas that still allow the prosecution to obtain a conviction on the charges.
  • Challenging grounds of deportability – For lawful permanent residents, an attorney may argue the conviction doesn’t trigger deportability, for example, based on the length of sentence imposed.
  • Avoiding detention – In some cases, an attorney can seek to have an immigrant released from custody and returned to family while fighting the criminal charges and advocating with immigration authorities.
  • Obtaining immigration bonds – If detention cannot be avoided, seeking a bond from an immigration judge may be an option, allowing the immigrant to be released while their case is pending.
  • Limiting evidence of alienage – Prosecutors sometimes seek to introduce evidence of the defendant’s immigration status or nationality at trial. A defense attorney will object to the introduction of such prejudicial evidence.
  • Advising on potential immigration outcomes – A defense lawyer should inform the client on how different plea options may impact their immigration status before entering into any plea agreements.
  • Coordinating with immigration counsel – In complex cases, the defense attorney should involve an immigration specialist to advise on potential immigration consequences across various options.

Navigating the intersection between criminal and immigration law

There are a few situations where the immigration consequences of a qualified criminal lawyer in Brampton case become particularly complex.  When a defendant faces charges on multiple different offenses from a single incident or across multiple cases, the deportation analysis becomes more complicated. The interplay across the different charges must be analysed carefully.

Misdemeanour marijuana possession has surprisingly harsh immigration penalties, including possible mandatory detention and permanent inadmissibility. These minor offenses require delicately crafted pleas. Lawful permanent residents have the most to lose from a conviction since it may strip their green card status. However, there are sometimes arguments to avoid deportability of LPRs in criminal cases.  Those without lawful status have fewer defences against deportation. However, options like deferred adjudication pleas can help avoid triggering the deportation process proactively in the first place.  Minors face the same potential immigration fallout from charges and convictions as adults. However, juveniles to additional protections within the criminal justice system those lawyers can leverage.