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The War on Drugs has had a profound impact not just on criminal law, but also immigration law. Drug offenses are targeted by both state and federal authorities. Immigration officials aggressively attempt to detain and deport anyone convicted of a controlled substance offense. The term “controlled substance” includes hundreds of types of illegal drugs and their equivalents, including common painkillers and marijuana. Anyone who is not a citizen and has a drug-related criminal record will have difficulty in navigating through the immigration process. Any noncitizen arrested for drug charges must be prepared for serious immigration consequences.
If you are a legal permanent resident or person without legal immigration status in the Philadelphia or tristate area, it is critical that you consult with a lawyer if you face any type of offense involving controlled substances. Likewise, if you have a drug conviction and seek to obtain or renew a visa, you should be prepared with skilled counsel in the event immigration officials become involved. A West Chester or Media immigration and drug defense lawyer from Skinner Law Firm can assist you. Call today at (610) 436-1410 to schedule a consultation.
We represent clients before the Philadelphia Immigration Court, York Immigration Court and throughout the tristate area including Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Montgomery and York counties.
Under immigration law, any person convicted of a drug offense, whether a state law, federal law or the law of another country, is deportable. The only exception is for possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana for personal use. Both misdemeanors and felonies fall under this category. Even conduct involving drugs can have serious immigration consequence. For example, anyone who is a drug abuser or drug addict is deportable. In addition, drug paraphernalia offenses may be 'drug-related' and thus deportable offenses. A drug arrest may lead to the accusation that a person fits into this category.
The most serious types of convictions are drug trafficking convictions. Drug trafficking is an aggravated felony and will almost always result in deportation. If deported for an aggravated felony, there will be a permanent ban on returning to the United States. If someone tries to reenter the country after an aggravated felony deportation, he or she may face up to 20 years in federal prison.
A conviction does not necessarily mean you will be detained and deported right away. It does, however, mean that Immigration and Customs Enforcement may send you a Notice to Appear (“NTA”) to begin removal proceedings. If you’ve received an NTA, it is important that you seek an attorney right away. Depending on the nature of your case, a lawyer at Skinner Law Firm can represent during the criminal process and in Immigration Court to seek the best possible result.
Serious drug convictions will likely render you inadmissible and thus prevent you from renewing a visa or green card. The government does not need a conviction to render you inadmissible. If an immigration official has reason to believe a person is engaged in drug trafficking, he or she will be unable to enter the country.
A conviction for simple drug possession or offenses other than trafficking is not an automatic bar to renewing a green card or visa unless the particular crime is deemed to be a “crime involving moral turpitude” or the person has had multiple offenses. Every case is different, and it is important to seek legal advice before wasting time and money trying to obtain an immigration status.
Drug convictions also have other repercussions. Spouses and children of anyone convicted of a drug offense may be inadmissible if they have received financial support from drug proceeds and reasonably knew or should have known that the money came from illegal drug activity. If you have a drug conviction, it is important to seek the advice of an immigration attorney before renewing a visa or green card since the consequences could affect you and your family. Always remember: drug convictions can affect you and your family members.
If you are a legal permanent resident, visa holder or person without legal immigration status who is facing any drug charges, the outcome could have a profound effect on your future. The best way to avoid the worst consequences is to fight the charge and avoid being convicted. Even if a conviction is inevitable, a carefully structured plea agreement can prevent negative immigration consequences.
At Skinner Law Firm, we are both criminal defense lawyers and immigration attorneys. We can help you fight both the accusations and charges, get charges reduced or dismissed, seek admission into an alternative program, and help you with any immigration consequences.
Whether your situation involves an arrest, a conviction or other drug-related issue, we can help you at Skinner Law Firm. As both immigration and drug defense lawyers, we are well-prepared for either type of case. Call us today at (610) 436-1410 to schedule a consultation. We have offices in both Chester County and Delaware County to help all clients in the Philadelphia and tri-state area.