Whenever an immigrant is involved in a criminal law proceeding, the type of plea or sentence imposed can cause severe consequences for a person's immigration status. Criminal law practitioners play a crucial role in ensuring that a defendant's immigration status is protected during the life of the criminal proceeding. The main way that a criminal defense lawyer can assist in this type of matter is to obtain a sentence modification (for cases where the sentence is already imposed) to avoid the negative effects of a specific judgment.
A sentence modification is a very powerful tool in the arsenal of a criminal lawyer defending an immigrant. If one is able to obtain an order reducing even credits (for in custody time) can open a door for specific types of relief through the immigration court. Obtaining waivers can help defend in removal (deportation) proceedings as they may totally invalidate the government's case for removal based on a conviction for an aggravated felony.
If a sentence modification is not possible, the attorney is left with the more arduous task of seeking to vacate a sentence. This requires an attack on the conviction itself by establishing that a ground exists to demonstrate the invalidity of the sentence or plea. This type of attack requires strong legal support to be successful.
Therefore, in most cases, your criminal defense counsel or Sacramento immigration lawyer will need to make a solid attempt to resolve any potential issues through the path of least resistance which is the sentence modification. In most cases, counsel should not encounter many obstacles in obtaining a sentence modification. Prosecutors like that the original sentence is not disturbed so it will not prompt heavy resistance from the opposing counsel. Thus, sentence modifications should be employed when possible to give the immigrant the best chance at maintaining lawful status in the U.S.