Criminal Defense of Immigrants


§ 2.43 A. In General

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We need to protect each noncitizen client against deportation if possible.  There is a simple way to do this that uses our knowledge and skills as criminal lawyers, but does not require us to learn the complexities of immigration law.  Many of us have attended seminars on immigration law for criminal lawyers, and emerged shaking our heads in confusion.  That’s complicated stuff.  It’s always changing.  There’s no need for us to learn immigration law.  Moreover, it’s risky for ourselves and for our clients for us to try to do it ourselves.  “Don’t try this at home.”  Even immigration lawyers sometimes have difficulty or get it wrong.


                The immigration analysis can be easy or difficult, but the bottom line is often very simple.  For example, after going through the entire criminal and immigration history, and analyzing all 51 grounds of deportation, and as many grounds of inadmissibility, and the 30 or so different forms of immigration relief, to see how they apply to our client, the target disposition will often boil down to (a) entering a plea to Count II instead of Count I, and (b) obtaining a sentence of 364 days, instead of 365.  In other words, the analysis may be complex, but the answer is often simple.  Once we know the target disposition that will save the client from deportation, our job is simply to use our normal criminal defense skills to try to obtain it if possible.