Immigration-Criminal Convictions

Several years ago, Atul Gawande published a book called The Checklist Manifesto. Gawande is a surgeon, public health researcher, and prolific writer. The premise of his book is routines and habits help prevent errors, and checklists encourage compliance with routines and habits. Without written reminders, doctors overlook important steps, just like anyone else.

I am a checklist lawyer. My office uses checklists, forms, or guides for almost everything, including our initial interviews, our preparation, and during trials. Still, I worry everyday about overlooking something.

That sense of dread came to mind when I read United States v. Murillo, 927 F.3d 808 (4th Cir. 2019) last summer. The Court in Murillo reaffirmed what was well established: we must explain to our clients any immigration consequences of their plea decisions. Id. Equivocal warnings are not enough. Id.

Fairly often, we represent people who are not citizens. Most have some form of documentation: professors with green cards, professionals with temporary visas, or students with a study visa. Long ago, we added a citizenship question to our initial interview form. We consult with immigration lawyers regularly. Yet, I need regular reminders of the impact particular plea decisions have to my client’s immigration status.

We created the enclosed guide to assist us during those situations. It includes relevant statutes and a general explanation of the law. Although it’s no substitute for research tailored to the facts of your particular case, we hope it serves as a quick resource. (You can download a more extensive report from our website.)

We represent people accused of criminal offenses and professional misconduct who risk losing everything. We work to get them their best results and back to leading productive lives. Let us know if we can ever assist you or your clients.