If you are a non-United States citizen, do not make any decisions about your criminal case without the assistance of a qualified and informed criminal defense lawyer. The immigration consequences of crimes can be severe and in many cases will outweigh the criminal penalty. All people who are not citizens of the United States, including immigrants and refugees, are subject to the possibility of deportation and separation from their family in the United States.
The consequences of a criminal conviction pose special difficulties for non-United States citizens and their defense lawyers. Sometimes just determining what constitutes a "conviction" for purposes of the Federal immigration laws is a daunting task for the criminal defense attorney. Non-citizen clients need a defense attorney who can offer basic assistance and advice about the immigration problems facing them in their criminal case. Also, clients need an attorney who can develop effective strategies in dealing with clients who are facing deportation.
Federal immigration law has changed dramatically in the past several years and the area of law is very complicated. Despite the complex nature of immigration law, criminal defense lawyers must carefully investigate their client's immigration status and understand the crime-related grounds for deportation or removal. Lawyers must also analyze the immigration consequences their client will face and resolve the consequences with an informed strategy. These lawyers must establish a working relationship with qualified immigration lawyers who regularly practice before immigration judges in federal court. Defense lawyers who maintain these relationships with the immigration bar can avoid circumstances with negative immigration consequences and can better keep clients informed of the rapid changes in the law.