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It is always important to obtain the assistance of an experienced federal defense attorney when charged with any federal crime, but it’s especially important to have a  CrImmigration attorney when charged with a criminal immigration offense because it is a very specialized area of law.

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Here’s Why

Immigration case law is unsettled.

Predicting immigration consequences requires the application of numerous “generic definitions” listed in the federal immigration statute (such as “aggravated felony,” “crime involving moral turpitude,” “fraud”, etc) to statutes of 50 different states and countless municipalities.  These generic definitions are terms of art which require calling upon experience or case law that addresses similarly worded statutes in other jurisdictions to see if this particular situation would meet the federal definition.

Immigration Judges can (un)reasonably disagree.

There are hundreds of Immigration Judges all deciding how to interpret whether a statute is a “crime involving moral turpitude,” many times without case law to guide them.  There is very little consistency. Often, Immigration Judges will even try to impose his/her own definition of state criminal law despite never practicing in a criminal court.  This can lead to varying outcomes and requires personal experience and knowledge of the Courts.

Clients are transferred to different jurisdictions.

There is no specific rhyme or reason as to where your client may end up in Immigration Court.  With hundreds of thousands in immigration detention each year, clients can be transferred all over the country depending on bed space and other undisclosed factors.  Meanwhile, circuit courts of appeal are creating a huge body of law on immigration issues, reaching different conclusions on the same legal questions. Unless you stay on top of the law in all eleven circuits, it is very difficult to provide advice with any certainty.