The consequences for immigrants who plead to or receive a DUI/DWI/APC conviction can be very harsh. INA § 101(a)(48) defines a conviction of an alien/immigrant as follows:
- The term “conviction” means, with respect to an alien, a formal judgment of guilt of the alien entered by a court or, if adjudication of guilt has been withheld, where-
- a judge or jury has found the alien guilty or the alien has entered a plea of guilty or nolo contendere or has admitted sufficient facts to warrant a finding of guilt, and
- the judge has ordered some form of punishment, penalty, or restraint on the alien’s liberty to be imposed.
- Any reference to a term of imprisonment or a sentence with respect to an offense is deemed to include the period of incarceration or confinement ordered by a court of law regardless of any suspension of the imposition or execution of that imprisonment or sentence in whole or in part.
In short, the US government considers a conviction that would affect someone’s immigration status to be any plea of guilty. The most important thing to remember is that even if somebody pleads to a deferred sentence, the law still considers that a conviction for immigration purposes. So whether a person has a green card or is applying for a green card, any plea or actual conviction for DUI/DWI/APC will likely make him or her deportable or ineligible to get a green card, respectively. Bottom line is that if an immigrant pleads to a deferred sentence, does the probation, and the case even gets dismissed, that person has a conviction for immigration purposes.
For immigrants, the connection between driving and alcohol must be removed. If prosecutor agrees to reckless driving or some other (non DUI/DWI/APC) charge, then that’ll be helpful to the client. But a DWI or worse is going to be harmful to an individual’s immigration status.
A recent case that addresses this issue is Padilla v. Kentucky. The Supreme Court in that case held that a client has the right to know the consequences to their immigration status before a plea. Therefore, it’s very important that your attorney know your exact immigration status so that he or she can properly counsel you on the best action to take and what actions will have a negative impact on your immigration status.
What Precautions Should An Immigrant Take In Regard To DUI Charges?
Do those classes as soon as possible. Get your ADSAC assessment done as soon as possible, and take the other classes that are recommended by the counselor as soon as possible. Get the victim’s impact panel completed as soon as possible. Stay out of trouble. Getting drug tests every week could be a good idea depending on what you were arrested for. Additionally, always work with your attorney and stay in communication with him or her so that your attorney can build the best case for you.
Should An Immigrant Also Consult With An Immigration Attorney?
It’s definitely advisable that you also contact an immigration attorney if you’re in immigrant. They can give you additional information on how the plea offer, or the case, could impact your immigration status. A criminal defense attorney might not necessarily know all the nuances of how a case will impact somebody’s immigration status, so it’s advisable to spend an hour or two with an immigration attorney so they can tell you the pros and cons of the various options.
For more information on Immigration Consequences Of A DUI, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (405) 633-3420 today.