Criminal Defense of Immigrants


§ 10.52 (A)

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(A)  Obtaining Necessary Documentation.  The client will probably need to establish the exact nature of the conviction and sentence, in immigration court, in order to argue that it does not trigger adverse immigration consequences.  If post-conviction relief has been ordered as part of the sentence, counsel should obtain multiple copies of the court order vacating conviction or sentence, or reducing the level of the offense, since the immigration courts often require certified copies, and state and federal criminal history agencies may require them as well.  This is best done on the spot.  Counsel should give one certified copy to the client, keep one in counsel’s file for possible future need, and send the third to the client’s immigration lawyer, so it can be presented to the immigration authorities or courts as proof of the nature of the conviction and sentence, or that the conviction has been legally eliminated for immigration purposes.


If it is not possible to obtain the certified copies in court, counsel can attempt to persuade the clerk to trust counsel with the court file, so counsel can take it to the clerk’s office and obtain the certified copies.  Failing that, counsel can discover when the file will reach the clerk’s office, and visit it to obtain the certified copies in person if possible.  If there is sufficient time, counsel can obtain them by mail after the file has reached the clerk’s office.


                If the case has been finally resolved by a new disposition or dismissal during the same hearing in which the original conviction or sentence was vacated, it is important to obtain certified copies of the clerk’s minutes, probation order, and other documentation of the final resolution of the case, so immigration counsel can reassure the immigration authorities that the final outcome does not trigger adverse immigration consequences.  It is also wise to order a copy of the reporter’s transcript of the hearing as well, for the same reasons.