Vacating a Conviction for Immigration
July 3rd, 2019
Our client “John” had come to the US to get an education and to improve the living conditions of his family. He was able to finish his education in nursing and obtain a good job where he enjoyed helping others. One day, all of that changed. John was accused of sexual assault in criminal court. A person he worked with claimed the assault occurred in the stairway of the clinic during their shift. He found a lawyer who told him to accept a disposition under the Massachusetts law called “continuance without a finding”, which requires an “admission of sufficient facts” to conduct that meets the legal elements of the crime. While he did not understand why he should admit to doing something that he didn’t do, he was assured that he would have no problems as long as he stayed out of trouble for one year. Although he stayed out of trouble for more than a year, problems soon followed. Because he was not a citizen of the U.S., John found himself being ineligible to remain in the U.S. with his family, since a “continuance without a finding” qualifies as a criminal conviction under the immigration law. In addition, John was required to register as a sex offender and was not even allowed to attend his own children’s school and sporting events.
At this point, John needed help with his immigration status and was recommended to our firm by a friend. Upon reviewing the court records and police reports, it became clear to attorney Desmond P. FitzGerald that John had not committed the offense and that he could help him reopen the case (vacate the conviction) and to defend the case to prove his innocence. This was not only necessary to allow him to remain in the US but it would also allow him to improve his quality of life. Ultimately, our office was able to have his conviction vacated, to get the criminal charges dismissed by the court, and obtain permission from immigration for John to remain in the U.S., through a petition for legal permanent resident status. John is now able to attend school events with his children and is no longer in fear of being deported and separated from his family.