A Criminal Conviction can Ruin Your Vacation
You might think immigration is an issue only facing non-citizens, but it's not. Even citizens of the United States will face international complications if they are convicted of any criminal offense.
Many countries, such as Canada, will not admit persons convicted of even relatively minor crimes like alcohol-related offenses. You don't want to find yourself in the embarrassing situation of attempting to cross the border on international business or vacation and being turned away. You won't have the protection of our Constitution and laws; you will be at the complete mercy and discretion of a border guard who isn't going to argue with you about what's in his computer.
Your best chance of preventing a possible lifetime lockout on international travel is to fight your case back home. Don't assume that it's too minor to worry about. Contact Perez & Perez Law, PLLC to schedule a free consultation with a team of highly experienced Seattle criminal defense lawyers.
Non-Citizens Have the Most to Lose
If you are not a citizen of the United States and are under investigation or charged with a crime, the consequences are even more drastic for you. It's essential that you consult with both an immigration lawyer who can advise you properly on the complex rules of law applicable to non-citizens AND a criminal defense lawyer who is familiar with the immigration consequences of a criminal prosecution.
A criminal conviction can have catastrophic consequences for any non-citizen, even for a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR, or "green card" holder), it's not something to take for granted. We have seen families torn apart as one of their members is deported after a simple criminal conviction and forced to separate forever from their family. As criminal defense lawyers licensed to practice in two international border states, Washington and California, we are familiar with the immigration issues facing all of our clients. We have extensive experience safely guiding clients through the dangers of criminal charges and immigration. Make no mistake about it — things have become increasingly more difficult for non-citizens.
September 11th Has Made Everyone More Suspicious
Ever since 9/11, the United States has joined other countries in stepping up the monitoring of immigrants within their borders. Frankly, the current political climate is not friendly to immigrants. Judges, prosecutors and police with a political agenda have no qualms about taking action against immigrants who come before them. We had a judge once whisper that it was ok that our client might be convicted because he was an immigrant! Don't give these people the opportunity to use you to make their statement. Fight back with someone who understands these issues.
The Department of Homeland Security can take several actions against you as a result of a criminal conviction or other resolution, even a plea bargain. In some cases, they can deny you re-entry into the United States if you leave. In other cases, they can automatically remove you from the United States (deportation). These actions can be permanent and without any consideration for existing family left in the United States.
A lot will depend not only on the nature of the crime alleged but also on the way that the case is resolved. The language used in court when you "resolve" a case can be significant when immigration officials looks over the record to determine your fate. For example, it's common in many courts for the prosecutor to refer to "police reports" when taking a plea from a person entering into a plea bargain. This reference alone can cause you immigration problems that could have been avoided if only your lawyer knew about them and how to avoid them.
An inexperienced lawyer may work out a very favorable plea bargain that allows the client to plead guilty to a lesser, non-deportable offense, only to learn later that the reference to police reports causes Homeland Security to treat the plea as an admission of facts contained in the police reports constituting a more serious and deportable crime. The client gets deported, and there's nothing he can do about it.
The prudent thing to do is to be pro-active and assume the worst. Don't settle for a criminal lawyer who tells you "don't worry about it" and then neglects to provide you with the protection you need now, when it counts. Contact Perez & Perez Law, PLLC and see how we fight harder than you know to protect you from accidental, unintended consequences.
Perez & Perez Law, PLLC represents everyday people facing extraordinary circumstances in Seattle, Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland, Issaquah, Everett, King County, Snohomish County, Pierce County and all across Washington State.