Criminal Defense of Immigrants


§ 5.2 A. In General

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The basic approach to defending a criminal case, so as to take immigration consequences fully into account and minimize them as much as possible, is quite simple:


1.             Obtain exact information on the client’s immigration situation.  See Chapter 4, supra.[1]

2.             Consult an immigration expert to determine realistic criminal goals that can minimize immigration consequences.  See § 5.12, infra.


3.             Determine with the client how important the immigration goals are, as opposed to traditional criminal defense goals.  See § 5.13, infra.


4.             Formulate a strategy that gives appropriate weight to the need to minimize adverse immigration consequences, in light of the other consequences of the criminal case and the desires of the client.  See § § 5.16 ff, infra.


5.             Continue to consult with an immigration attorney since additional immigration questions frequently arise during the course of the case. See § 5.15, infra. 


This chapter will focus on the fourth step, how to develop a strategy.

[1] See also M. Vargas, Representing Noncitizen Criminal Defendants In New York State, Chapter 2 (N.Y. State Defender’s Association, Immigrant Defense Project, 3d ed., 2006).