I recently had a great discussion with a colleague of mine regarding criminal/immigration consequences. I thought I would post the distilled form of the discussion here. By the way, if you need a great immigration attorney in New Jersey, be sure to contact Ms. Yolanda Navarrete, Esq. at 973-984-0800.

The conversation began with a question about immigration consequence:

Hypothetical client is detained in county jail, due to DV charges. The girlfriend does not want to press charges, by the DA is moving forward. The state is offering harassment as a plea agreement. This person is desperate to get out of jail. There’s an “immigration hold” (means that ICE has placed a detainer on him) so bail is not practical. Should I make him wait for trial, or will pleading to harassment make him (undocumented but has a USC baby) an enforcement priority?

I responded:
Harassment of a family member could potentially make you a domestic violence (DV) removal priority. Actually, though, I would strongly advocate for sitting on this hypothetical client’s head and not letting him (or her!) plea to anything. It can be very hard, but no desire to get out can offset a dismissal.

Next question:

How about pleaing to criminal mischief (admitting to breaking a cell phone or other personal effect)?

Probably a lot safer in regards to an object. The issue is to avoid any kind of domestic abuse issue, or provide evidence the DHS attorney could use to that effect.

Destruction of personal effects is childish, but does not amount (arguably) to domestic abuse. Harassment, however, is the traditional precursor to a protective order, which would be extremely bad. No to harassment, a qualified “okay” to destruction of property <$100 (I believe you call that criminal mischief). Better still if the plea colloquia just stated destruction of a cell phone, without reference to the other party — but that could be asking too much.

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