Criminal Defense of Immigrants


§ 11.27 B. Investigating the Case

Skip to § 11.

For more text, click "Next Page>"

The investigation process is discussed in Chapter 3, supra.  The attorney must investigate the complete criminal history when a client appears with a fresh criminal case, in order to determine what dispositions of the current case can be tolerated without unacceptable immigration damage.


A complete client interview concerning the criminal case must be conducted,[268] concerning the jurisdictions in which previous criminal cases occurred, the conversations between client and former counsel on each case, and the client’s version of the facts of each case.  The client’s immigration situation — both what it is now and what the client hopes for (i.e., how the client hopes to legalize his or her status) [269] — must be explored, including whether the client may have acquired U.S. citizenship without knowing it.[270]  Counsel must also obtain information on the client’s equities.  See § 3.23, supra.


                The client’s version of these events must be verified, by obtaining DHS records and the files of prior immigration counsel.


                The client’s exact criminal history must be verified, by resorting to federal, state, and local criminal history records, as well as the court files and counsel’s files concerning each prior criminal case.

[268] For a comprehensive criminal client interview form, see I A. Amsterdam, Trial Manual 5 for the Defense of Criminal Cases § 90, pp. 125-166 (1988).

[269] See “Basic Immigration Status Questionnaire,” Appendix A, infra.

[270] Does the client have a parent or grandparent, living or dead, who may have been born in the U.S. or who may have acquired U.S. citizenship?  If so, it is possible that the client has unknowingly inherited U.S. citizenship.  Ask this question of the client’s spouse as well.  See § § 3.13-3.20, supra.