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Texas Immigrants Need To Understand The Relationship Between Immigration Law And Criminal Defense

Blue flashing sirens of police carThis is the second post in my series on how being charged with a crime impacts immigrants in the Austin, Texas area. My last post provided a general overview of topics we will be discussing and stressed the need to contact an attorney who practices both criminal defense and immigration law under such circumstances. This post is going to expand on the topic further by explaining why these two areas of law are closely related.

The way in which one can simultaneously face criminal charges and a deportation hearing is obvious. If an immigrant is in the country illegally, and is arrested for any type of offense, then they may quickly be charged with a crime and immigration authorities may also become involved. The local jail where one is booked for the arrest may notify the Federal Government that the immigrant is being held. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) may then place an immigration hold on the defendant/immigrant. This hold means that the defendant may not be released even if the criminal case is resolved. Upon completion of the criminal case the defendant will be taken into custody by Federal Officials and may then face a deportation proceeding.

Whether any of these things occur is largely in the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security.  In January of 2015, a new policy came into effect under which immigrants are categorized into three different priority groups for deportation.  The policy allows for attorneys to argue that some immigrants should remain in the U.S. even if they are labeled a priority for deportation.  It is important to have an immigration attorney who is familiar with all new policies affecting the deportation of certain immigrants.

After being charged with a crime, defendants remain in state custody until they post bond or until their criminal case is complete and any sentence of incarceration served.  It is very important to know whether your loved one has an immigration hold before posting bond.  Some bond companies will not accept cases of those with immigration holds, and others want to ensure that you have an immigration attorney on board before paying the bond on your behalf.  After the bond is posted, immigration authorities have 48 hours to take the inmate into immigration custody.  It is at that point that your immigration attorney can contact immigration to request release from immigration custody.

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for undocumented persons accused of a crime to retain a criminal defense attorney who is not versed in immigration law and who does not understand the impact that one’s criminal case will have on their immigration status. Our attorneys practice extensively in both of these areas and take a broad approach to assisting immigrants charged with a crime. Call today to speak with a lawyer. Our Austin office assists people throughout Travis County as well as those in Williamson County, Texas.

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