Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can any criminal conviction affect my immigration status?
A: No, not all crimes affect a person’s immigration status. However, it is important that before pleading guilty to any crime, you consult with an attorney who understands immigration law and criminal defense. Many times a simple change to the charge or sentence will have a big impact on an immigrant defendant’s immigration status.
Q: What is the difference between an immigration attorney and your office?
A: Our office represents individuals in criminal court, we are not immigration attorneys. Immigration attorneys assist individuals through filing documents and appearing in immigration court. While immigration attorneys understand the immigration consequences of criminal convictions, most do not have any experience in criminal court. Our office maintains an active practice within the criminal courts and understands the nuances of the criminal process. This experience gives us an understanding as to how a past conviction can be modified or vacated that most immigration attorneys do not have.
Q: My conviction is extremely old, is there anything that I could do or is it too late?
A: Just because a conviction is old does not mean it cannot be vacated or modified. We have vacated and modified many old convictions, often times, between fifteen to sixty year old cases. For an immigrant facing deportation, if the court file has been destroyed because it is so old, it is easier to have the case vacated because the prosecution usually cannot prove the defendant was warned of the immigration consequences of the conviction when pleading guilty.
Q: What is post conviction relief?
A: Post conviction relief is an area of criminal law in which someone that has already been convicted tries to get rid of or modify their conviction. Usually this is for immigration purposes, but can be for other reasons. Some examples of post conviction relief by our firm include: appeals, writs of habeas corpus, motions to withdraw pleas, motions to recall sentences, and requests to correct the record of conviction.
Q: What are my chances of success in seeking post conviction relief?
A: Each case has its own unique set of facts that affect the success or failure of having the conviction vacated or modified. We diligently research each case to give our client the best chance of success in attacking a former conviction.
Q: What are some ways that you have vacated or modified convictions for your clients?
A: In trying to vacate or modify a conviction we investigate the case from many different perspectives. A few examples of errors we have discovered through our investigation include: the defendant’s attorney being unlicensed to practice law at the time of the plea, the defendant being denied an interpreter, the defendant not being advised of the immigration consequences, the defendant not having the mental capacity to represent himself, the defendant being coerced to plead guilty by co-defendants, and the court exceeding its jurisdiction because the defendant was under 18 years old at the time the crime was committed.
Q: What does it mean to vacate a conviction?
A: When a conviction is vacated, the court is finding that there was an error at the time of the guilty plea and because of this error; the conviction must be set aside.
Q: Can a conviction be vacated even if it has already been expunged?
A: Yes, since an expungement does not erase a conviction for all purposes, it can still be attacked if there were errors in how the conviction was obtained.