Immigration is a major issues facing criminal defense counsel these days. Oftentimes our clients are in the United states illegally. Many common criminal offenses, such as assault, prostitution, theft, drug possession, and burglary can have dire consequences for the defendant. These charges are considered "crimes of moral turpitude" and will almost certainly result in the deportation of the defendant upon guilty plea or conviction. Even traffic offenses can raise the red flad to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.) and lead to major problems for clients.
The bottom line is this: criminal defendants with immigration issues MUST HAVE separate immigration counsel!! Unless the criminal attorney practices in BOTH areas, two lawyers must be retained. The immigration issues are complicated and the penalties, usually deportation, are severe, to say the least.
I currently have a case involving an illegal Indian national charged with Aggravated Assault and Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose. Immediately upon his arrest, ICE swooped in an placed a "detainer" on the client. This means that even if the client can post bail on the underlying criminal offense, he still cannot leave the jail because of the detainer. In spite of my STRONG admonissions to this client, he did not retain separate immigration counsel. When it came time to enter into a plea agreement in court, the judge wasn't comfortable letting him plead out until he had done so.