Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is at it again by continuing to pick up illegal aliens with prior criminal records. The agency has been following the same protocol over the past year. Several Miami-Dade County residents were taken into custody for felony convictions such as drug trafficking, violent crimes such as robbery, aggravated assault and aggravated battery, and sex offenses. ICE has conducted numerous enforcement operations in order to deport convicted felons. The operation that netted the aliens yesterday was conducted by the Joint Criminal Alien Removal Taskforce or ("JCART"). The six individuals are being held in federal custody pending removal proceedings or deportation. Anyone being held by immigration authorities for prior criminal convictions should retain a Miami criminal attorney experienced in handling post-conviction relief matters in order to set aside past criminal convictions.
In most instances, the only way to get a relative or loved one out of immigration custody is to prove to an immigration judge that the conviction has been successfully vacated and the charges dismissed. The first step to successfully proceeding with a motion for post-conviction relief is locate the file at the clerk's office to determine if a plea colloquy is in the file. If the plea colloquy is not in the file, it must be ordered from the court reporter who was present in court when the plea was taken. The arrest affidavit must be evaluating to determine the severity of the crime. A prosecutor will be somewhat sympathetic if the charges or not serious or involve crimes of violence.
The next step in vacating a plea is to evaluate the colloquy. Fortunate defendants were not advised of the possibility of being deported by the judge. As long as a defendant is in deportation proceedings, and the plea was taken less than two years ago, a motion for post-conviction relief will most likely be successful. The Supreme Court of the United recently handed down a decision that affirmative mis-advice from a criminal defense lawyer regarding the immigration consequences is also a basis for vacating a plea. The appellate courts within the State of Florida are deciding whether this defect can be cured by a judge's plea colloquy. Just because a case is vacated does not mean that charges will be dismissed, unless an agreement can be worked out with the prosecutor. However, the older the case, the more difficult it is for the prosecutor to prove the case and in all likelihood will decide not to proceed with the prosecution.
Keep in mind that drug trafficking charges, violent crimes and sex offenses are not the only offenses that can get an illegal alien deported. Two convictions or even withholds of adjudications for simple marijuana possession can form the basis for being deported. In many instances, defendants accept plea to seemingly harmless charges only to find themselves in immigration custody years later. The best course of action for a person who is illegally in the United States or is a resident alien and is charged with a crime is to seek out a criminal defense law firm who will fight the charges and hopefully obtain a dismissal of the charges. This is the only measure that can guarantee staying in the United States.
ICE Arrest 6 At-Large Convicted Criminal Aliens in Miami, BorderFireReport.net, November 18, 2010.