I don’t think anyone would disagree. There are consequences for breaking the law. Just don’t do it. That said, all of us make mistakes. Good people commit crimes. No, not the most vicious and amoral offenses, but some of the lesser crimes that can still be life altering to the accused. This could not be more true than in situations where a foreign national attending college or a university to complete his or her studies at an American school is arrested in New York for what otherwise is a fairly small offense. In such situations, a $100 shoplift arrest in Queens, a Desk Appearance Ticket for possessing marijuana in Manhattan or even a dispute with a cab driver that ends in an arrest for Theft of Services in Brooklyn can all have major implications for an immigrant and foreign national in the United States. In fact, it is possible, and clients have come to the New York criminal lawyers at Saland Law PC dealing with this exact issue, that as a result of the mere arrest, their F1 or H1B visa is revoked. One such Saland Law PC client found himself in this predicament only days ago. Fortunately, the New York criminal defense attorneys at Saland Law PC rectified the situation in a timely manner to allow this client to secure the proper visa and legal status and return to the United States to continues his education.
Although not preferred, our client contacted our criminal lawyers a day before he was due to appear in Manhattan’s Midtown Community Court on West 54th Street after he was arrested for New York Penal Law 221.10. Criminal Possession of Marihuana, PL 221.10, is a misdemeanor crime. No, an accused is not going to prison for possessing some weed, but the ramifications and consequences are very real for this and any type of arrest when one is not a citizen.
Unaware of what might happen, our client returned to India where he resided. He did so after his arrest and DAT, but before his court date. At some point he was advised by the embassy that the government revoked his visa. Without a valid visa our client could not return to the United States. For that matter, if he had not left he would be unable to do so because he would have been denied return entrance with a revoked visa. Fortunately, upon contacting our criminal lawyers who are knowledgeable about immigration issues in this context, we arranged for our client to provide us with certain materials necessary to present a judge in his absence.
Within 24 hours, Saland Law PC appeared before the court and represented our client in his absence. We explained to the judge, among other things, that our client was unable to return to college even though classes had started and he had registered for the semester. Obviously, the financial and personal cost to our client in missing school far outweighed the crime and charge of marijuana possession. Upon completing our advocacy, the judge not only agreed to dismiss and seal the case immediately thereby closing and resolving the criminal case at that exact moment, the clerks were kind enough to accommodate our request for an official certificate of disposition reflecting the dismissal and sealing of the case. No plea. No admission of guilt. Case closed on day one.
Armed with this certificate of disposition, our client was able to then commence the process to restore his visa and return to the United States to continue his education.
Every case is different and unique, but any foreign national, whether he or she has a visa, green card or is in the citizenship process, must address very real concerns and issues when he or she is arrested in New York. A conviction, such as one for a crime involving moral turpitude, an aggravated felony, domestic violence, drugs or a firearm, is even more concerning. Because of this, it is critical to minimize your exposure and fight your criminal case whether it is relatively small or one that is quite serious. Arguably, every criminal case is serious for a foreign national fighting for his or her legal status. Failure to do so may result in the termination of your status and all that you have work so hard to achieve.
Saland Law PC is a New York criminal defense law firm representing clients in all criminal matters throughout New York City and many surrounding suburbs. Both founding New York criminal lawyers at Saland Law PC served as prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.