Maryland Courts – Representation in DISTRICT COURT and CIRCUIT COURT in Maryland. With the firm’s expertise in immigration law and criminal law, the firm is in a unique position to produce the best outcome in the non-citizen’s criminal case with the ultimate goal to avoid immigration consequences. What is the point of getting a great plea deal in the criminal court if it results in prolonged detention by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and inevitable deportation?
The firm handles all variety of criminal cases. The following crimes are analyzed from the immigration context:
NOTE: Any criminal conviction has the potential to affect a non-citizen’s legal status in the United States. For instance, many immigration benefits are conditioned upon a favorable grant of discretion and non-citizen’s criminal record will ALWAYS weigh negatively on that decision.
- Traffic – most traffic offenses do not carry any deportation consequences, including DUIs and DWIs.
- WARNING! A non-citizen with two misdemeanor convictions is ineligible for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). In Maryland, many traffic offenses are considered misdemeanors, including DUIs and DWIs.
- Theft – theft is a very dangerous offense for immigration consequences. Be careful, even relatively minor theft convictions, such as a conviction for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle (the official charge for “joy riding”), can trigger drastic immigration consequences. If you are convicted of theft and receive a sentence (even if suspended) of one year or more, a non-citizen will be classified as an “aggravated felon” in the immigration court and deported.
- Assault – currently, a conviction for Maryland second degree assault with a sentence (even if suspended) of one year or more will result in mandatory immigration detention and deportation as an “aggravated felony.”
- Controlled Dangerous Substances (CDS) – any CDS conviction will most likely result in mandatory immigration detention and deportation. The only exception is a conviction for possession of marijuana where the total amount of marijuana was under 30 grams. Caution – possession of paraphernalia is a deportable offense. Some CDS convictions, such as convictions for the sale, manufacture, distribution of CDS will be classified as an “aggravated felony,” from which there is no immigration relief. Other CDS convictions, typically convictions for simple possession, may allow immigration relief, such as cancellation of removal.
- Burglary and robbery – in the immigration context, burglary and robbery can be classified as a crimes involving moral turpitude. They can also be classified as an “aggravated felonies” if the non-citizen is sentenced (even if suspended) to one year or more of incarceration. “Aggravated felonies” will trigger mandatory immigration detention and deportation without relief.
- Weapons charges, domestic violence, child abuse – a conviction that involves a firearms, domestic violence, or child abuse can result in deportation, although immigration relief is available.
- Murder, rape, sexual abuse of a minor – a conviction for murder, rape, or sexual abuse of a minor will result in mandatory immigration detention and deportation.
POST-CONVICTION – In many cases, non-citizens plead guilty to offenses that incur immigration consequences. When there is no relief from deportation in the immigration court, often the only remedy to to attempt to vacate the conviction by means of filing a petition for post-conviction or by filing a writ of coram nobis. If a defendant is incarcerated, on parole or on probation for a conviction, he or she can file a post-conviction petition. Otherwise, a defendant can only file a writ of coram nobis. The best advantage of a petition for post-conviction is that the applicant is guaranteed a hearing before a judge. The filing of a writ for coram nobis has no such guarantee. For more information, go to our post-conviction webpage.
Recent Case Results
February 23, 2015 – Citizen of Guatemala retains his green card with a 212(h) waiver
Facts: In July 2012, a citizen of Guatemala entered the United States and was stopped at the border and placed in secondary inspection. Even though the citizen of Guatemala had a green card, he had several convictions for theft and he was inadmissible to enter the United States. He was placed in removal proceedings and came to the firm for help.
The Firm’s Representation: Our client walked into the firm’s office for a consultation at 5:00 pm. After reviewing our client’s criminal history, it was discovered that our client had a theft conviction and a one year suspended sentence, which in the immigration context is an aggravated felony. Further review showed that our client had walked into the the firm’s office on exactly the 90th day after he was sentenced for his theft conviction. In Maryland, criminal defendants have 90 days to file a motion to reconsider the sentence. In this case, we needed to reduce our client’s sentence by one day to 364 days or less, but the court had already closed for the day. The firm called a colleague in Montgomery County who stated that the court had an after hours drop box. The firm quickly drafted a motion to reconsider sentence and emailed the motion to the firm’s colleague who agreed to deposit our client’s motion in the after hours drop-box for the Montgomery County Circuit Court. What luck! Several months later, the motion was granted and our client’s sentence was reduced to 360 days. The sentence reduction paved the way for our client to seek an INA 212(h) waiver in the Immigration Court. Our client did the personal work to keep himself out of trouble and the firm did the rest.
Outcome: Our client was granted an INA 212(h) waiver and he was able to retain his green card. In a few years, our client can apply for naturalization.See more...
December 1, 2014 – Three of the firms clients released from DHS detention during Thanskgiving week
On Friday November 21, 2014, our client from Mexico was released from DHS custody with a brand new green card when DHS made its decision not to appeal the grant of the green card with an INA 212(h) waiver by the Immigration Judge. For six months, our client had been represented by another immigration attorney who was not aware that the client had a form of relief in the Immigration Court and simply asked for continuance after continuance until the client’s family sought the firm’s help. Although our client had a serious criminal conviction for the Maryland offense of second degree child abuse, the firm was still able to position our client for success in the Immigration Court through careful and meticulous pre-hearing preparation. The firm’s legal strategy was contested by DHS, but the Immigration Judge sided with our theory of our client’s eligibility for a INA 212(h) waiver. Our client was lucky that he had a caring and loving family that stood by him. Our client had spent over a year in DHS detention.
On Tuesday November 25, 2014, two days before Thanksgiving, the firm’s client from Sierra Leone was released from DHS detention with his brand new green card. Our client had convictions for credit card fraud and theft and he was removable for two or more crime involving moral turpitude not arising out of a single scheme of criminal misconduct pursuant to INA 237(a)(2)(A)(ii). The client’s original attorney thought the best plan of action was to file an application for withholding of removal based on a concession that the client’s convictions were “aggravated felonies.” After questioning such a course of action, the client’s family came to the firm for help. The client’s fiance, who was a U.S. citizen, wanted to marry the client. The firm arranged the marriage while the client was detained and then filed an I-130 on behalf of our client and his wife. Once the application was I-130 approved, the client adjustment status in the immigration Court with an INA 212(h) waiver – our client’s convictions were not “aggravated felonies.” Once the application and waiver were approved by the Immigration Judge, DHS waived appeal and our client was released from custody the same day, just in time for Thanksgiving. Our client had spent over one year in DHS custody.
On December 28, 2014, the firm’s client from Liberia was released from custody after DHS decided not to appeal the Immigration Judge’s decision to grant adjustment of status with a refugee waiver for a criminal conviction for the Maryland felony offense of first degree assault. The client had two previous immigration attorneys who were not taking the client’s case in the right direction. The client’s family sought out the firm to take over the case. Preparation was the key to the case – preparation of the various witnesses, both lay witnesses and expert witnesses, and preparation of the documentary evidence. After the Immigration Judge issued a written decision granting the adjustment and waiver, DHS waited the full thirty days in deciding not to appeal the case. Our client was released on December 28, 2014, the day after Thanksgiving, after 11 months of DHS detention, with his brand new green card.
It was a good week for the firm’s clients.See more...
March 12, 2013 – Citizen of El Salvador is granted a green card through NACARA after being voluntarily placed in removal proceedings
Facts: In September 2012, a citizen of El Salvador was desperate to get his green card. He had been in the United States for nearly 25 years. He was eligible for NACARA (Nicaraguan And Central American Relief Act), but he could not apply to USCIS to get his green card. His previous attorney billed him thousands of dollars, but ultimately, the attorney did nothing for the citizen of El Salvador. The citizen of El Salvador sought the firm’s help.
The Firm’s Representation: The firm first analyzed whether there was any relief available for our client. The form realized that our client was eligible for NACARA. However, our client never applied for asylum. Because our client never applied for asylum, USCIS did not have jurisdiction over his NACARA application. Only the Immigration Court had jurisdiction to adjudicate his NACARA application. The firm told our client that he had to be placed in removal proceedings to get a green card. Of course, our client was very concerned about being placed in removal proceedings, but the firm assured him that everything would be okay. The firm placed our client in removal proceedings. The firm attended one status hearing with our client in the Immigration Court in January 2013, whereupon a final hearing was set for March 12, 2013.
Outcome: On March 12, 2013, our client was granted NACARA special rule cancellation of removal and granted a green card.See more...