When A Criminal Record Is An Immigration Obstacle
Has someone told you that you cannot pursue a work visa, a green card or citizenship because of a criminal record? Are you now facing the threat of deportation because of criminal conviction, even one from many years ago?
When new clients tell us these things, our answer is, “Not so fast! Don’t assume anything.”
An honest conversation with an experienced immigration lawyer who also understands criminal law is a first step to discovering alternative solutions.
Chances For Relief After A Conviction
A careful review of your background as well as the specific facts and circumstances of your criminal case may reveal opportunities to seek post-conviction relief that may clear your record and the alleviation of some of the harshest immigration consequences that result – oftentimes unknowingly – from convictions based on pleas entered by people – perhaps such as yourself or a loved one – who did not have a complete and accurate understanding of the true terms of the agreement they entered – or that their attorney at the time entered on their behalf – with the Prosecutor that led to their guilty or no-contest plea. The successful pursuit of post-conviction relief begins with a thorough review of your criminal conviction. Depending on the facts and circumstances in your case, one of our highly experienced attorneys may be able to get your conviction vacated, which can then lead to total and outright dismissal of the case, or in the alternative, the opportunity to renegotiate an immigration-safe alternative disposition with the Prosecutor that will avoid the disastrous immigration consequences associated with the original plea and corresponding conviction.
The Law Offices of Gita B. Kapur and Associates can help you explore these and other options for overcoming the obstacle of your criminal record.
Looking Back: Protections For Immigrant Suspects
In addition to the methods mentioned above that may help clear your record, a relevant law relates specifically to immigrants in California Penal Code § 1473.7 was passed in 2016 especially to help immigrants with criminal records. It took effect in 2017 and was then amended by the state legislature so that it is now even more advantageous to noncitizens with California criminal convictions.
It allows immigrants to file a motion with the court where the conviction occurred, seeking to have the conviction vacated (or eliminated) when they did not understand the immigration consequences of guilty or no-contest pleas in criminal cases in California.
The relief offered by Penal Code § 1473.7 follows the lead of a well-known U.S. Supreme Court decision from 2010, Padilla v. Kentucky.
In that case, a native of Honduras who had been a lawful permanent resident of the United States for over 40 years faced deportation after pleading guilty to drug-distribution charges in Kentucky.
In post-conviction proceedings, he reported that his defense attorney had not advised him of the risk of deportation when he entered a guilty plea. In fact, he said that his lawyer had told him not to worry about deportation since he had lived in the U.S. for several decades. His lawyer’s reassurance proved to be untrue.
The outcome of this case included a decision by the Supreme Court that criminal defense attorneys are REQUIRED to advise noncitizen clients about deportation risks of a guilty plea.
The new California law under Penal Code § 1473.7 as amended now clarifies that noncitizens are no longer required to prove ineffective assistance of counsel in order to successfully vacate old convictions.
If you were convicted after a lawyer did not warn you of the possibility of deportation when you made a plea bargain, this fact may open the door to new legal options for you.
Your criminal conviction may be vacated, leaving you with no criminal record. Then your past legal troubles may not stop you from pursuing your immigration goals, including deportation defense or the pursuit of a visa, green card or citizenship.
We Have Helped Others This Way And We May Help You
Our immigration and deportation defense lawyers have helped many clients remove obstacles to their immigration goals. We sometimes accomplish this through post-conviction relief in criminal court, that when successful can lead to victory in immigration court. Our experienced and passionate attorneys have successfully vacated convictions in various criminal courts located throughout California, as well as successfully won the appeal of the wrongful denial of a post-conviction relief Motion to Vacate based on Penal Code § 1473.7.
My legal services are competitively priced, and I offer payment plans to clients in Los Angeles and surrounding areas in California, including Long Beach, Pasadena, San Fernando Valley, Santa Monica, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Ana, and Palmdale who qualify.
We speak a variety of languages to ease the process for our immigrant clients, including Spanish, Hindi, Punjabi, Zapotec, Armenian, and Urdu.