Drugs Charges and Immigrants

When an immigrant non-citizen or citizen is charged with a drug offense, law enforcement typically has already prepared its case.  An arrest will be made or sometimes law enforcement will issue a citation that requires an individual to come to court.   It is not uncommon for federal immigration authorities to place a “hold” on an immigrant who is arrested.  For an immigrant, depending upon the amount of drugs involved, the drugs in question, and the number of times an individual has sold, made, or used an illegal drug, after negotiations with the lawyer for the individual charged, prosecutors often will offer a deal: fine, jail time, court costs, probation and more.  Though there may consequences to a citizen from a conviction or plea to a drug charge, for the immigrant, the consequences are devastating: He or she can be deported or removed for using or selling relatively small amounts of an illegal drug.

Therefore, it is critical, absolutely critical, that your lawyer understands the implications for immigration law resulting from a conviction or plea for a drug charge or any other criminal charge.  Sometimes, prosecutors will work with defense lawyers to reduce the charges to non-deportable crimes.  Recently, our office persuaded a prosecutor to reduce the charges against an immigrant from drug charges to non-drug charges and from felonies to a lesser crime.  This helps immensely with immigration issues.

Criminal law can be difficult to understand and immigration law is extremely complicated.  When hiring a lawyer, therefore, make sure he or she understands how a plea or conviction will affect immigration status.  Otherwise, the consequences can be devastating for an immigrant.