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Immigrants With Ambiguous Drug Convictions Allowed Possible Relief From Deportation, Says 9th Circui

On July 18, 2019, the 9th Circuit in Marinelarena v. Barr, No. 14-72003, overturned Young v. Holder, 697 F.3d 976 (9th Cir. 2012) by deciding that an inconclusive record of conviction is not enough to bar immigrants from seeking relief. Previously under Young, immigrants with ambiguous drug convictions on their record would be ineligible for family visas or cancellations of removal, eventually resulting in their deportation.

To be eligible for relief under Young, immigrants had to submit proof that drugs listed on an immigrant’s record of conviction did not involve drugs on the federal list of controlled substances. If the record of conviction (otherwise known as a “plea deal”) was silent on the specific type of drug relevant to the offense, the law under Young precluded such immigrants from seeking relief.

Under Marinelarena v. Barr, the court reversed its prior findings in Young, stating that “in the context of eligibility for cancellation of removal under 8 USC §1229b(b), a record that is ambiguous as to whether a state law conviction constitutes a predicate offense that would bar a petition from relief actually does bar relief. We hold that it does not.”

As a result of this decision, immigrants who are convicted of possession of an unnamed controlled substance may now be eligible to apply for cancellation of removal, or other forms of previously precluded relief. This not only helps immigrants in defense of their removal or deportation, but it also provides criminal defense attorneys a viable option to pursue in plea deals involving drug offenses with immigration consequences.

If you are an immigrant and have a conviction for the possession of a controlled substance, or if you have a pending drug case in criminal court, you should consult with our office immediately to determine whether or not you qualify for additional forms of relief under the new law. Ensure you have the right representation fighting to protect your rights and immigration status. Do not take any plea deal without consulting with a qualified attorney knowledgeable of this law.

Our office specializes in criminal and immigration defense. We are highly skilled at properly defending against your criminal drug possession charges, ensuring you face little to no consequences with your U.S. immigration status. Once we secure the best possible outcome for your criminal case, we will continue to protect your rights to remain in the country, should you be placed into immigration proceedings. If you are already in removal proceedings and were affected by the Young v. Holder decision, we can further help you remedy that matter.

It is extremely important to have the best representation during your criminal proceedings and, subsequently, your immigration proceedings. Your criminal defense team is required to know, understand, and properly advise you of the immigration consequences you may face should enter a plea of guilty. Call us today at 323-553-1541 for a free consultation with our leading immigration and criminal defense attorney.

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