Here are some of questions a defense attorney can ask: Is the statute in the case identical to the client’s statute? Has it been amended? Is the record of conviction identical? Are any differences significant? Without answering those and other questions, the criminal defense attorney can’t be sure that the case really answers the client’s question.
If I could just spend a minute talking about immigration counsel, the criminal defense attorney must often obtain some expert advice from immigration during the defense of a criminal case. Unless the defense attorney has really researched the specific immigration questions facing the particular individual defendant’s case, expert immigration advice is absolutely, positively necessary.
There’s no substitute for consulting an immigration expert to find out the client’s exact immigration situation prior to any new conviction. The defense attorney can consult with an immigration/crimmigration attorney to determine the exact immigration effects for the client of each of the various possible alternative dispositions of the new criminal case.
The immigration attorney will hopefully be able to assist the criminal defense attorney to identify a realistic target disposition, what we call “a safe haven”, that will not trigger deportation.
The Help of a Crimmigration Attorney Is a Valuable Component of the Defense for the Foreign National Client
Interviewer: It appears that your role is just like any other expert witness or any attorney that handles the area of law that a given criminal defense attorney’s case runs into. The people that are reading this publication will know, “It’s worth it for me to contact an expert involved in this particular area of law because I am not. I can research it. I can try to figure it out myself, but I could be doing my client a disservice, and I could be doing myself a disservice by not getting this expert involved.”
For instance, if a divorce or probate issue arises, the smart attorney will always get an expert involved. When it comes to immigration, a smart attorney would get an immigration specialist involved regardless of how much they think they know. Is that fair to say that?
Ron: It’s more than fair to say that, and you’ve hit two very important points. Number one, certainly if a criminal defense attorney doesn’t figure out what those immigration consequences are, it could end in a very, very bad result for their client being deported when, perhaps they could have avoided deportation.