Criminal Defense of Immigrants


§ 21.18 A. First Possession Offense

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First time simple possession will, in most cases, be considered a controlled substances offense, triggering deportation and inadmissibility.  A first simple possession conviction will usually not qualify as an aggravated felony.  Simple possession is not a crime of moral turpitude, and will not give the DHS “reason to believe” a noncitizen is a drug trafficker.  It may be sufficient to show drug abuse or addiction.  An expungement will work to avoid immigration consequences only if the expungement occurred under the Federal First Offender Act, or the noncitizen is in the Ninth Circuit.



Ninth Circuit

Pagayon v. Holder, 642 F.3d 122, 2011 WL 2508239 (9th Cir. Jun. 24, 2011) (per curiam) (California conviction of possession of a controlled substance, under Health & Safety Code 11377(a), constituted a controlled substances conviction, triggering deportation under INA 237(a)(2)(B)(i), 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(B)(i), where respondents admission in removal proceedings he pleaded to guilty as charged established the drug involved as methamphetamine which was listed in federal drug schedules).