If you are not a citizen and have been arrested for a criminal offense, you should strongly consider consulting with an immigration lawyer in addition to a criminal defense lawyer. Some things you should know if you are trying to decide whether to consult with an immigration lawyer about your criminal court case include:
- Even “minor” criminal offenses, such as shoplifting, can have serious immigration consequences.
- Misdemeanors can lead to deportation and removal proceedings.
- Some misdemeanors may be considered aggravated felonies for immigration purposes.
- Some special programs, such as deferred prosecution, may still result in a conviction for immigration purposes.
- Although an expungement may be helpful from a criminal law point of view, many immigration forms require you to list all arrests or if you have ever been detained by law enforcement — even if your record has been sealed or expunged and even if you were not convicted.
Why consult with an immigration lawyer instead of just a criminal defense lawyer?
Both immigration law and criminal law are complex areas of law. For the criminal law aspects of your case, you want a criminal defense lawyer representing you who can get you the best resolution from a criminal law point of view. The efforts of your criminal defense lawyer will include such things as getting the charges dropped or reduced, negotiating the best plea agreement possible and defending you at trial if necessary. You will want someone who is an expert in these areas representing you in your criminal court case.
In some cases, however, the best resolution from a criminal defense point of view could expose you to serious immigration consequences, such as being placed in deportation or removal proceedings. You should ensure that you also receive guidance on the immigration consequences of your criminal court case so that you can minimize the risk of being deported or found inadmissible to the United States. By working together, your immigration lawyer and your criminal defense lawyer can get you the best resolution from the criminal defense point of view while minimizing the immigration consequences of your criminal case.
What are the benefits of getting an immigration lawyer involved in my criminal court case?
As discussed above, getting an immigration lawyer involved in your criminal court case can help you get the best outcome to your criminal court case while minimizing the immigration consequences that you may face. In addition, by getting involved early in your case, your lawyer will be in the best position to defend you if you are placed in removal or deportation proceedings.
But won’t it be expensive to get an immigration lawyer involved in my criminal court case?
Not necessarily. Many immigration lawyers offer affordable consultations for people who are not citizens and who are facing criminal charges. You may find that it is very affordable to have an immigration lawyer work with your criminal defense lawyer to help ensure that the immigration consequences of the criminal case are minimized.