Deportation Caution: Be Wary of Plea Bargains for a Misdemeanor Offense
Author: Law Office of Alena Shautsova
A recent article about deportation in the Washington Post alerts immigrants to a situation they may be unaware of that can lead to deportation. According to the article, when undocumented immigrants plead guilty to a misdemeanor, they often find themselves in the same category as defendants charged with violent crimes.
Consequently, they can face deportation. The State of Virginia in 2010 began a trend of automatically waiving jail time for minor offenses classed as misdemeanors. The waiver saved the state millions of dollars because judges did not have to assign public defenders to handle cases. For misdemeanor prosecutions, judges would negotiate guilty pleas and sentence a fine and no jail time for the defendant. However, the misdemeanor conviction when viewed under federal immigration laws set the immigrant up for deportation proceedings, especially when convicted of a drug offense. Essentially, defendants ended up self-incriminating to avoid a potential short jail sentence but did not realize the worse penalty that lay before them ― deportation. With no lawyer to advise them about their rights, they were left vulnerable.
If you face criminal charges, protect your rights as an immigrant by consulting a NY immigration attorney. Immigration is a very specialized area of law and sometimes criminal defense lawyers are not aware of immigration laws and the potential repercussions of a criminal conviction.