If you are facing deportation or other immigration consequences as a result of a criminal conviction, it might be possible to vacate (“un-do”) that conviction.
When non-citizen clients meet with me for the first time, one thing is usually clear: the “good deal” that resolved their criminal case actually set off a chain of events that could lead to their deportation.
With each new family I meet, I have to explain the fundamental flaw in our system: that a non-citizen with a green card who has lived here their entire life can be deported for accepting the exact same plea – with the same sentence, for the same crime – that sometimes wouldn’t even give a U.S. citizen a criminal record.
And that’s not fair.
That is why for nearly a decade I have chosen to specialize in helping non-citizen clients vacate these convictions to avoid deportation, ineligibility for relief in immigration court, inability to travel internationally, and ineligibility for citizenship.
The keys to success for post-conviction relief for non-citizens:
Experience, Expertise, Creativity
My interest in these cases began in 2013 when I was co-counsel for the defendant in the landmark Supreme Judicial Court case Commonwealth v. Sylvain. This case substantially expanded the availability post-conviction relief for non-citizen defendants who were not aware that they were pleading guilty to a case that would get them deported.
This is a highly specialized practice area. It’s not exactly immigration law, but it’s not exactly criminal law either. It’s sometimes referred to as “crimmigration” and it is a complicated and nuanced area of law that I have spent nearly a decade learning inside and out.
I am frequently asked to present to and train other attorneys on this topic, and I also provide one-on-one mentorship to attorneys who are new to this area of law.
Most of my clients came to the U.S. as children and have no ties to the country they were born in. My job is often to help judges understand that deportation is worse than any jail sentence they might have gotten if they rejected the plea offer that seemed like a “good deal” at the time and went to trial.
Over the years I have spent hundreds of hours interviewing my clients and their family members so I can learn to walk in their shoes, because that’s exactly what I’ll be asking the judge to do. I am always thinking outside the box for new and compelling ways to convey this information to the court.