Criminal charges don’t affect all people in the same way. For a U.S. citizen, an irresponsible night of drunk and disorderly conduct could result in spending an unpleasant night in jail. For an immigrant, however, a simple mistake could jeopardize their entire future in the U.S. This applies to undocumented immigrants and legal permanent residents alike.
The system treats immigrants differently because, in the event of criminal charges, there are actually two different courts that will handle the case: criminal court and immigration court.
Getting the right legal support
If you’re an immigrant facing criminal charges, you probably know that you have the right to criminal defense counsel. However, the average criminal defense attorney only focuses on criminal law – and not immigration law. They could advise you to accept certain deals or make certain pleas in order to avoid going to jail or trial. But they may not have any idea that admitting to certain things could put you at risk for deportation in immigration court.
This is why it’s so important to get a lawyer who understands the inner workings of both the criminal and immigration legal systems. They can help you with:
- Handling communication with the immigration authorities
- Understanding what a guilty or no-contest plea can mean for you
- Avoiding conviction from an immigration as well as criminal standpoint
- Avoiding actions that could automatically result in deportation or inadmissibility to the U.S.
- Understanding the impact of immigration holds on your case
- Learning how plea bargains could impact your immigration status
Facing criminal charges is a scary – and potentially life-altering – moment for any immigrant. It pays to get the right legal counsel to support you in both criminal court and immigration court.