§ 3.25 7. Criminal Issues
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Certain information about criminal history can be obtained only from the client. Some of this information is necessary in order to begin the process of documenting the client’s criminal history situation. First, it is necessary to verify the jurisdiction (i.e., the geographical location of the court) in which each prior criminal conviction occurred. It is also necessary to determine whether each conviction was suffered in state or federal court. If the conviction occurred in state court, the attorney must ascertain the state and county (or other local governmental subdivision) in which the conviction occurred. This information is necessary in order to determine which “rap sheets” (federal, state [which state(s)] and/or local criminal history records) must be obtained in order to verify the existence of the conviction(s). See § § 3.26, et seq., infra.
Information concerning the client’s exact criminal history may be complex or highly technical, and the client’s memory may not be complete and accurate, especially if a span of years or extensive use of alcohol or drugs is involved. Therefore, it is important to verify the details of the plea, conviction, and sentence with official sources of information. See § 3.34, infra.
It is wise to conduct a comprehensive interview with the client concerning the underlying criminal case. The standard criminal case interview will suffice for immigrant clients as well as all others.