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criminal law and immigration

There have always been potential adverse immigration consequences, including deportation or removal, for criminal defendants who happen to be non-citizens. This includes those who are legal permanent residents ("green card" holders) and those living in the United States without legal immigration status. The best person to ask when you have questions about your status is an experienced criminal immigration lawyer. In Philadelphia and the extended Pennsylvania area, immigrants can depend on Tran Law Associates for knowledgeable advice.

Since March of 2010, when the Supreme Court issued its decision in Padilla v. Kentucky, the connection between a criminal conviction and adverse immigration consequences has been even more clearly highlighted. The Padilla decision sets a standard that criminal defense counsel must be particularly careful to meet, ensuring that all non-citizen defendants are accurately informed of the potential adverse immigration consequences of entering a guilty plea. The decision should also be a wake-up call to all non-citizen defendants to be certain that they understand exactly what is at stake in terms of immigration status and benefits before entering a guilty plea in a criminal matter.

Often defendants are presented with an opportunity to plead guilty to a lesser crime or crimes in return for avoiding a trial. This decision on its surface appears to be merely a choice of pleading guilty to a less serious crime and a shorter sentence, instead of going through a trial where the end result might be a guilty verdict on a more serious charge and a longer sentence or even the possibility of the defendant being found not guilty on all charges. But for non-citizen defendants, the risks of pleading guilty, depending on the charges, usually includes both criminal and immigration consequences. Do not take the seemingly better deal without consulting an immigration attorney first.

Pennsylvania residents can avoid consequences of criminal convictions such as deportation, being barred for a period of time from naturalizing to U.S. citizenship, and being barred from reentering the United States by consulting with an attorney who is experienced in immigration law. Criminal convictions may also make the non-citizen defendant ineligible to apply for certain forms of immigration relief or benefits, such as asylum, temporary protected status (known as "TPS"), voluntary departure, or adjustment to permanent legal resident status.

Because a criminal conviction can result in deportation, it is critical that non-citizen defendants fully understand the consequences of a guilty plea before agreeing to anything. If you are in need of a criminal immigration lawyer in Philadelphia, contact Tran Law Associates today.

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