Regardless of the individual’s previous behavior and criminal record, a criminal conviction is the primary basis for a person being deported or having their immigration position denied. Benefits like green cards and visas are particularly subject to denial is one if found to have a criminal conviction, and this can be particularly devastating for those who began the process with a clean record, but now find themselves with a criminal conviction.
While not always the cases, convictions can result in the deportation of the individual. The confusion stems from the different agencies which govern immigration law and criminal convictions. Immigration is managed by the federal government under federal law, whereas criminal convictions are based on state law and overseen by state agencies. Some states report their criminal histories more aggressively than others, particularly in the current political environment, and the rules regarding what constitutes a deportable criminal defense under federal are not clearly defined, often requiring hours of court litigation and debate.
When faced with such a complicated legal process, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and not know what to do. You’ve built your life in this country, and the threat of deportation can be a horrifying one to face. For anyone in this situation, your best course of action is to consult an experienced immigration lawyer like those at Dehghani & Associates. Our team can evaluate your case and advise the best way to proceed forward.
After securing an immigration lawyer, the next step depends on what stage in the process you are at. If you are currently being tried for a criminal offense, your criminal defense lawyer and immigration lawyer can work with you to discuss the best options and strategies to ensure your immigration status remains secure throughout the proceedings. However, if you’ve already been tried and convicted for the criminal offense and have since been informed that you can be deported as a result of that conviction, your options are different. Similar restrictions apply if your application is being denied based on previous criminal history.
Once a guilty conviction has concluded in a criminal case, it is exceptionally difficult to fight against the sentence and for your immigration cases, regardless of if you plead guilty or were found to be so by a jury. Speed is of the essence here as Connecticut law stipulates that you have only twenty days from the time you are sentenced to seek an appeal of the verdict. If you suspect you’ll like to appeal the conviction, inform your lawyer as soon as possible, even if this is during the trial. Not all cases are capable of being appealed, but those that include mishandling of evidentiary ruling by the trial judge, issues with the jurors, a lack of substantial evidence to support your convictions, or misconduct by the prosecutor are all potential sources of proof for the necessity of an appeal. In these cases, you may be able to contend your conviction and decided upon an applicable immigration plea.
In some cases, your lawyer may not have adequately advised you of the immigration consequences of your decisions. Though a lawyer may not have mentioned the effects of your conviction, that does not mean you should assume there are none. In these cases, you can file a motion against your criminal defense attorney for failing in their duty to protect your rights. After filing, a trial judge will investigate through a hearing including both you and your attorney to decide if the attorney was indeed negligent in their duties to you and if that attorney’s negligent decisions subsequently caused the situation.
However, the intent and behavior of the attorney are not enough to ensure a new evaluation of the case. Even if the attorney failed to properly advise you, if the evidence against you was so substantial that you would have pled guilty regardless, then the judge could deny the appeal. Thankful, the drastic, family-shattering consequences of deportation often lead judges to side with the defendant and agree that the individual was prejudiced if the attorney did not adequately inform them.
In this situation, the case is reopened, and the process starts over again. From here, it’s crucial that you work closely with your immigration attorney and criminal defense attorney to secure a plea deal or return to trial. It’s possible for a deal to be struck that allows you to submit an immigration-friendly plea that will protect your right to live in the country.
Immigration law is complex and always changing. At Dehghani Law, we understand the stress the immigration process places on yourself and your family, and we’re here to help ease the burden and protect your rights through every step of the process.