Many people don't realize the difference between an individual who holds a green card and a United States citizen. However, one similarity is that if a crime is alleged against either, they are both subject to the same process in a criminal proceeding.
A green card holder is considered to be a lawful United States permanent resident, but is not a citizen. To become one, a green card holder must first go through the process of Naturalization.
If you, a friend or family member is a green card holder and has been arrested or accused of a crime, your chances of being able to move forward through the Naturalization process may be significantly impacted and greatly hindered. Even in the event that there is a finding of not-guilty by a jury, or even if a judge dismisses all charges, while going through the process, certain charges previously brought against you can bring your moral character into question, even without a conviction. These alleged charges can also put you in a situation where the possibility of deportation can likewise be put on the table.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service can deny citizenship if it even has "reason to believe" that you are, or have been a drug addict, an abuser of alcohol as well as having the belief that you've engaged in crimes such as the trafficking of narcotics or even a simple accusation of shoplifting. These types of allegations as well as many others may of their own accord, give a USCIS examiner grounds to question your moral character which is a major factor required for naturalization, and can impede a desired outcome for full citizenship.
If you've reached this page of my Website most likely you been charged with a crime, or possibly someone close to you has been arrested and are either the holder of a green card, or possibly an undocumented immigrant. If an undocumented immigrant is involved in this case, in addition to an experienced criminal defense attorney, to fight any charges brought forward, a lawyer who is a specialist in Immigration law will be needed to achieve the best possible outcome by formulating a strong joint strategy.
As a skilled criminal defense lawyer I am aware of the effects that a criminal case can have on a non-citizen whether that non-citizen is merely a green card holder (or legal resident) a person who is here illegally without any status or a nonimmigrant visa holder who is here legally but for a limited time based upon permission to reside in the United States granted to them by certain types of visas issued by the government.
When a client is charged with a crime, I always try to not only avoid a conviction but even a withholding of adjudication under Florida law. This is because a withhold of adjudication which is not a conviction under Florida law may still be a conviction for federal purposes leading to the deportation of the client.
In the case of certain third degree felonies in Florida, I have found it imperative to enroll my client in a pre-trial diversion program after which the charges against them will be dismissed after completion of the program thereby avoiding any type of disposition which could lead the client's deportation. It is best in such situations to have the client avoid any admission of guilt in the diversion papers submitted so that this admission cannot be used against them in the future. Thereafter if possible the client's arrest should be sealed to best protect them from adverse immigration consequences where there is neither a conviction nor a withholding of adjudication incurred.
I always structure the plea agreements if possible so that the client is not pleading guilty to a crime of moral turpitude or an aggravated felony. This likewise may avoid the specter of deportation.
In structuring the plea agreements I believe it's also a good idea to try and take advantage of the Federal First Offender program set forth in Title 18 USC section 3607; Keeping the case in juvenile court is also a beneficial result for the client in the right cases as well as structuring a plea to a petty offense which may also avoid deportation.
When dealing with a marijuana case I always try to structure the case so my client is not responsible for more than 30 grams of marijuana; this will also help them avoid deportation in the right case.
Drug trafficking crimes can be lethal for a client who is a non-citizen and in serious cases do not permit a waiver in immigration court. I always try to avoid a plea to these charges if at all possible. For this reason I always make the suggestion to work along with a skilled immigration lawyer who has the knowledge necessary to apply for waivers from certain types of convictions.
Finally it is sometimes possible in rare cases to obtain visas for cooperating witnesses and this possibility should always be discussed in this case with the prosecutor. It can avoid deportation in the otherwise impossible case where large amounts of drugs are involved and crimes of moral turpitude or aggravated felonies have been committed by the client
It is important to have a skilled criminal defense lawyer like myself who is aware of these pitfalls and others like them if you are a non-citizen faced with criminal charges. What we do in this area of the law can have a crucial effect on how you spend your life in this country long after a sentence is imposed and unfortunately many lawyers are not aware of the adverse immigration consequences which can arise after conviction of certain crimes.
For almost half my professional career I worked for the other side; the prosecution. My duties included being an Assistant US Attorney for the government as well as an Assistant State Attorney and an Assistant Attorney General while working for the prosecution in the State of Florida. Through cases I've tried; holding these titles I've learned the ins and outs of how the prosecution moves forward in all criminal matters including those involving immigration cases on a state and federal level.
This involvement in the past of well over thirty years has given me a clear advantage over other criminal lawyers who practice as criminal defense attorneys in any criminal proceeding including those regarding matters of immigration law.
So if you or someone close to you is facing any issues involving charges while being a green card holder or an undocumented immigrant or refugee don't delay.
Making a phone call to my office at the earliest point of any criminal case will at all times increase my probabilities of bringing a favorable conclusion to a case, and in the specific situation involvement of a lawful United States permanent resident with green card status; increase the chances of leaving a route to their future naturalization aspirations intact.
You can find my contact form on every page of this website but calling me directly at any of the phone numbers listed will certainly expedite our introduction and allow me to begin to craft a proper strategy for any criminal charges brought forward.