Interviewer: What are the most common misconceptions or top questions you’ve gotten from criminal defense attorneys?
Ron: The most frequent misconception is that if the penalties associated with the New Jersey crime are very minor in nature, then it couldn’t possibly result in somebody being deported. That’s an absolute fallacy.
In fact, later on I will share a story about the client that plead guilty to a disorderly persons offense, which is one of the lowest violations in New Jersey for being under the influence of cocaine. The client didn’t even possess it, just was under the influence, and that person was subject to not only mandatory detention–they couldn’t get out of jail–but they were absolutely, positively going to be deported.
How Can a Defense Attorney Protect Clients Who Are Not Citizens?
Interviewer: In New Jersey specifically, how does a criminal defense attorney protect their non-citizen clients’ immigration status?
Ron: The basic approach that the criminal defense attorney should use to protect his or her client’s immigration status is fairly simplistic.
The 1st step is to obtain exact information on the client’s immigration situation. However, that may be easier said than done.
The 2nd step is that they should consult an immigration expert to determine realistic criminal goals that can minimize the immigration consequences.
The 3rd step is they should determine with the client how important the immigration goals are, as opposed to traditional criminal defense goals.
The 4th step is they should formulate a strategy that balances the adverse immigration consequences with the other consequences of the criminal case in light of the wishes, the desires, of their client.
Finally, they should use standard criminal defense techniques, of course, to try to achieve the client’s goals.