Second Chances Under the Law. Part II
Last time we spoke about how a Motion to Reopen an immigration case, can provide a person with a second chance at obtaining legal status in the U.S. Now, we will talk about how a Motion to Vacate a criminal conviction can do the same.
Criminal cases have a serious impact for all immigrants. A criminal conviction can result in the denial of citizenship, denial of a green card or even deportation. Sometimes, a person does not even know that they will have trouble with immigration until it is too late. That is why it is so important to get assistance from a lawyer who has experience with both, immigration and criminal law.
Bases for vacating a criminal conviction in MA
The law in Massachusetts allows a court to vacate/cancel a conviction entered after April of 1997. While there are numerous bases for vacating a conviction, there are special procedures related directly to immigration in Massachusetts. The law of Massachusetts recognizes the close connection between criminal charges and one’s immigration status, and therefore, there are several protections specifically for immigrants:
- First, there is a law that requires the Judge to inform a defendant that a plea or admission to guilt in a criminal case may result in deportation/removal, exclusion, or denial of citizenship. If there is evidence that the Judge failed to provide these immigration warnings then the conviction can be vacated.
- Second, the criminal defense attorney must provide the defendant with the proper and explicit information about how the conviction will impact his/her immigration status. If the attorney did not do so, then the conviction can be vacated.
A client real life story
In one situation, a young client who had only been in the U.S. for a short time was arrested with some friends at a mall for taking a shirt out of a store without paying for it. The boy was scared, and when his prior attorney told him that the case would “go away” if he went on probation and did not get in trouble for a year, he was happy. What the boy did not know was that by accepting responsibility for the theft he was not going to be able to stay in the U.S. Our office got retained when he and his family realized he was not going to be able to get his green card due to his conviction. We reviewed the court records and determined that he had not received the proper immigration warnings. Our immigration and criminal lawyers filed a motion to vacate his conviction which was allowed by the court, and as a result, he was eligible to obtain his green card.
Fortunately we have been able to assist individuals who are facing terrible consequences with immigration due to prior convictions by vacating a prior conviction and re-trying the case. If you are faced with any criminal charge or believe that you were not given the proper information or warnings when you were convicted of a past criminal charge, we may be able to help vacate the conviction and change the disposition in the case to prevent adverse effects on your immigration status. To schedule a consultation with one of our experienced criminal/immigration lawyers, please call at 617-303-2600 (ext. 0) or request the appointment in our website.
The FitzGerald Law Company Team