Interviewer: There’s a clear path for how to figure this out. That helps. So now, I’m sure this is a very complicated area for a criminal defense attorney. What are the immigration consequences to a plea? Is there a basic template that will at least set out what the defense attorney needs to look at and consider, so that they can bring that to someone like you that can finish the analysis? What do they do?
There Is Documentation to Assist a Defense Attorney in Determining Criminal Consequences for the Foreign National Client
Ron: The criminal defense attorney can, at least in theory, research the immigration consequences and other criminal immigration issues themselves. There has been a welcomed trend with the development of various charts that explain immigration consequences for different criminal offenses.
The defense attorney can simply locate the immigration consequences chart for the jurisdiction of that particular conviction, look up the statute they’re charged or of which the client has been convicted, and obtain a quick indication of some of the more important immigration consequences. This can include whether the conviction constitutes an aggravated felony, whether it is a crime of moral turpitude, or some other ground of deportation.
And there are various collections of these charts to encompass different jurisdictions. One of the more popular ones would be at this website: www.nationalimmigrationproject.org.
Another would be: www.ilrc.org. This is for New York: www.nysda.org. It’s the Immigration Defense Project and I believe they have not only New York but also some New Jersey crimes. There is also: www.nlada.org.
The Charts Are Not All-Inclusive and It Is Best to Consult With a Crimmigration Attorney
These charts, however, do not give advice concerning the dozens of other topics on which a criminal defense attorney should really consult with an immigration attorney. They should be regarded as the starting point for brainstorming and research, rather than a source of authoritative answers to the question: “What is a safe disposition for my client?”
Even if a chart entry is found with a case on point indicating that this disposition does not trigger a given immigration consequence, there’s no substitute for reading a case and analyzing whether it indeed governs a client’s precise situation.