Failure of a Lawyer to Give Immigration Advice in a Criminal Case

January 9, 2021

By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

(972) 369-0577

jeremy@texasdefensefirm.com

Immigration is such a major topic in criminal defense the topic has been given it’s own name:  Crimmigration.

Criminal defense lawyers have a non-delegable duty to advise their clients about immigration consequences.  The point was made clear in the landmark US Supreme Court case Padilla vs. Kentucky, 559 US 356 (2010).  Padilla holds it is ineffective assistance of counsel for a lawyer handling a criminal case not to advise a client about the immigration consequences and dangers which come with the criminal case.  This is because erroneous advice – or not giving advice at all – can lead to a client’s deportation, removal or ineligibility to renew immigration status.  It is not enough for a criminal defense lawyer to tell their client, “your immigration issue is not my problem – I’m just handling your criminal charges.”

I’ve blogged before on the complexity of immigration issues in the criminal context and you can read it here.

Being Aware of Immigration Tripwires in Criminal Cases

Immigration law is it’s own completely different practice of law from criminal law.  I explain to clients that me giving immigration advice in many ways is like a foot doctor giving advice about your shoulders.  Nonetheless, Padilla and the cases which have followed require criminal lawyers to educate themselves in immigration law enough to effectively advise clients about what can and can’t happen because of things like guilty pleas, conditional dismissals, or specific sentences.

Some immigration rules require detailed analysis about facts and issues which are easy for a criminal lawyer to over-look.

For instance, immigration courts have different classifications for drug possession than Texas criminal courts.  The Texas criminal courts have their own scales for charging drug possession cases which don’t necessarily correlate to the federal court’s or immigration court standards.  Many Texas criminal lawyers may just skim the amount ultimately weighed just to make sure it comports with Texas law – but the lawyer must also beware the tripwire of the immigration consequences if applicable too.

Being Extremely Cautious in Decisions Which Affect Immigration

I tend to be extremely cautious when dealing with immigration issues and complications.  It’s because immigration has been and will probably always will be a white-hot legislative topics in the federal government.  Just because the law says pleading guilty offense x in 2021 is fine doesn’t mean the laws can’t change in 2026 and take a completely different view of what we did 5 years before.

What Happens When My Lawyer Gives Me Bad Immigration Advice?

It’s common for our office to get phone calls when someone has taken a plea deal of some sort and then they get detained, removed, or are not allowed to renew their citizenship status.  It’s often the first time the client had any inkling there would be a collateral immigration problem connected with their criminal case.

When a lawyer doesn’t give immigration advice either because it scares them or they just didn’t spot the issue at all – or if a lawyer gives bad immigration advice it can be “ineffective assistance of counsel.”  Ineffective assistance of counsel in an immigration setting means the lawyer didn’t give proper advice and as a result – the client’s decision was rendered “involuntary.”  An involuntary decision – usually to plead guilty or no contest – is nullified in the event there was ineffective assistance.

Ineffective assistance of counsel can be addressed through different legal mechanisms such as a “Motion for New Trial” or a “Writ of Habeas Corpus.”

Ask Your Lawyer About Immigration Consequences

If you have any questions in a criminal case setting about immigration consequences – ask your lawyer.  It’s your criminal defense lawyer’s job to properly advise you about immigration consequences.  Often times it may take a joint session between criminal and immigration lawyers working together to make sure the client fully understands.

*Jeremy Rosenthal is certified in criminal law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.  He is recognized as a Texas Super Lawyer by Thomson Reuters.

 


What is Entrapment?

November 18, 2020

By Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

www.texasdefensefirm.com

(972) 369-0577

Entrapment is a tricky concept. It occurs when law enforcement convinces someone to commit a crime.  It gets confusing because the entrapment must go beyond merely affording someone the opportunity to commit a crime.

The law further says the enticement must be enough to persuade a normal, law abiding citizen with an ordinary resistance to committing a crime.  A good rule of thumb when thinking of entrapment is to see where the original intent of the crime originated – with police or the accused?

Entrapment is a defense to prosecution and Texas Penal Code 8.06 says:

(a) It is a defense to prosecution that the actor engaged in the conduct charged because he was induced to do so by a law enforcement agent using persuasion or other means likely to cause persons to commit the offense. Conduct merely affording a person an opportunity to commit an offense does not constitute entrapment.

(b) In this section “law enforcement agent” includes personnel of the state and local law enforcement agencies as well as of the United States and any person acting in accordance with instructions from such agents.

Example of Situations Which are Entrapment:

  • A recovering addict is getting addiction treatment.  An undercover police officer meets the addict in the lobby of the counselor.  The undercover asks the addict to provide illegal drugs.  The addict refuses citing his attempt at recovery.  After repeated attempts to convince the addict, the addict gives in and attains and delivers drugs to the undercover officer.  See Sherman v. United States, 356 U.S. 369 (1958).
  • Undercover officer makes repeated attempts at having defendant provide access to drug dealers and drugs after defendant was reluctant after 12-year relationship. See Torres v. State, 980 S.W.2d 873 (Tex.App. — San Antonio, 1998).

Example of Common Situations Which Are Not Typically Entrapment

  • Person sells drugs to undercover police officer;
  • Persons who seek out and hire a hitman to kill someone;
  • Public servant who is offered a bribe and accept it.

Other Thoughts on Entrapment

Candidly – there is a strong bias against the entrapment defense by judges and juries.  Entrapment is more of an academic argument for that reason – and typically the most a court can do in a case of entrapment is give the jury an instruction they can acquit an accused on that basis.  So even if the person meets the legal pre-requisites of entrapment a jury still might not buy it.  Most people think the government conduct would have to be so outrageous as to strongly over-shadow the crime committed.

*Jeremy Rosenthal is board certified in criminal law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.  He has been designated as a Texas Super Lawyer by Thomson Reuters.

 

 

 


Court-Run Mental Health Programs

November 17, 2020

By Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

www.texasdefensefirm.com

(972) 369-0577

I’ve blogged extensively about mental health and how it intersects with criminal law.  The over-lap can’t be understated.  You can watch a podcast I’ve done on the topic here.

Some of the good news is many criminal law judges, probation departments and even prosecutors have gotten on-board with gearing to include mental heath treatment as well as their normal repertoire.  It never hurts to ask your lawyer or your loved one’s lawyer what the available options are.

I can’t tell you how many mothers, fathers, spouses and other loved-ones of my clients have told me their main goal in a case is to simply get them help.  But the criminal justice system – and the adversarial process wasn’t naturally built to accomplish tasks like mental health treatment.  There are pros and actually cons to Court-Run mental health programs folks should be aware of.

Advantages of Court-Run Mental Health Programs

On the plus side, these court-run programs are designed for the indigent or near indigent.  So cost which often dictates far more than it should is hopefully all but eliminated.

The county (or whatever governmental sub-division you’re dealing with) has access to more infrastructure and services than a private entity might be able to have.

The court also has a “captive” audience meaning the individual has no real choice but to participate.  Anyone who has a loved one who is either so disturbed or oblivious to their mental health disorder that they refuse treatment knows how valuable this can be.

Disadvantages

For me as a criminal defense lawyer – I’m always focused on what happens to the client in 10 or 20 years based on what we do today.  Here are some important questions I ask about any government program:

  • Will this program require my client to be convicted as a price of admission?
  • Can I get this off my client’s record in addition to getting the treatment (often known as mental health diversion)?
  • Do I actually trust the county’s ability to do what they say they can do to help?
  • Am I just signing someone up for the county to be “in their hair” for years to come?
  • Are there better private alternatives which are viable options?

The Bottom Line on Court-Run Mental Illness Programs

Make no mistake – it’s fabulous to see courts simply move in this direction.  Judges and probation officers paying attention to these crucial aspects and triggers for criminal cases is a great thing – and you know people are really starting to get the importance of mental health when the prosecutors even get involved.

But going into a mental health program run by a judge or probation department is still – and probably always will be – a “look before you leap” situation.  There are always many factors to consider.

*Jeremy Rosenthal is board certified in criminal law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and has been designated as a Texas Super Lawyer by Thomson Reuters.


Podcast: Marijuana Legalization

October 29, 2020

By Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

(972) 369-0577

www.texasdefensefirm.com

I’ve been doing a podcast this fall and I’m calling it simply, “The Lawyer Show.”  Every Thursday I interview another lawyer from a different area of law for an hour and mainly I do a lot of listening.  The episode on cannabis and legalization of marijuana was as fascinating as it gets.

A few weeks ago, I talked with California corporate lawyer Josh Schneiderman – and believe it or not — he advises and represents companies in the cannabis industry in California.  I learned a ton about how marijuana legalization might look and work in Texas.

It’s been nothing short of stunning for me to see the shift in attitudes in Texas since the time I was a prosecutor here.  It’s still a criminal offense – but for how long is anyone’s guess.  Enjoy the interview.

 

 

*Jeremy Rosenthal is board certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.  He has been designated as a Texas Super Lawyer by Thomson Reuters.


Lessons From Marijuana Legalization in California

October 9, 2020

By Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

jeremy@texasdefensefirm.com

(972) 369-0577

I recently started doing a podcast.  Since I love talking it’s really been a blast.

My guest yesterday was a lawyer in California named Josh Schneiderman.  Josh works for a 450 lawyer firm with offices around the Southwest named Snell & Wilmer.  He represents businesses and companies in California in the cannabis industry.  By all accounts it is a cutting edge practice.

You can watch the podcast here.

Here are some major takeaways from the discussion:

While cannabis is legal in California, it is still prohibited by the Federal Government

This creates major headaches in far reaching areas you might not anticipate.  For example, if you are trying to patent a particular cannabis product – the Federal Government won’t grant you a patent.  Or, if you need a loan from a federally backed lender – you can forget that too.  Or, if you need bankruptcy protection you can’t get that either.  And the list goes on and on.

Some Banks and Credit Unions Will Take Cannabis Money – But it’s a Challenge

If a bank is going to take cannabis money — usually cash — they have a complex scheme of checks and audits they are responsible for to make sure they aren’t taking black market deposits.  That includes in some cases detailed direct analysis of the grower or retailer of the marijuana which larger and more sophisticated banks are unwilling to do.

The Cannabis Industry is Still Largely Based on Cash

Credit card companies are intimidated and scared by some of the regulatory nightmares and possible liability – so many in the legal cannabis supply chain still operate on cash.  That forces others in the chain to do the same.

These observations were the “tip of the iceberg.”  We discussed much much more including the path Texas seems to be on towards potential legalization and the pitfalls along the way.  I hope you’re able to watch.  It was truly a fascinating discussion!

*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and is designated as a Texas Super Lawyer by Thomson Reuters.