I am an Illegal Alien and I am Afraid to Go to Court

Being an undocumented alien is very difficult, especially when the legal system is involved.  There is a natural fear that going to court may lead to removal.  Removal means  possibly the following: “What is going to happen to my children?”, “How am I going to take care of my wife and my family”, “Who is going to pay the rent, the bills?”, “It is not safe in my home country.  What will happen to me if I am forced to go back?”.

Many States like Michigan refuse to allow most undocumented aliens the ability to get a driver’s license.  In Michigan it is almost impossible to get from one place to another without being able to drive.  One option is to drive with a valid driver’s license from your home country and an international driver’s license (if your home country and the United States have a treaty to allow for such driving).  What happens when your license is expired, or lost, or is no longer valid?  Driving without a valid license is a misdemeanor offense.  Another choice may be not to drive, which really isn’t a good solution?  Another choice may be to contact an experienced immigration lawyer such as Attorney Sufen Hilf of the law firm Hilf & Hilf, PLC to see if you can obtain a lawful status in the United States.  If you obtain lawful status in the United States it may become possible to obtain a valid license.  However, in some cases it might not be possible to get lawful status.

So what happens if you are undocumented and you receive a ticket for driving while license expired, driving under the influence, domestic violence, retail fraud, or some other criminal offense?  If you go to Court and are convicted there is a risk that the Judge or the probation department could report your status to ICE.  There are some Judges that order Defendants to report their status to ICE as a condition of probation (which may be a violation of your 5th Amendment privilege against self incrimination, because being unlawfully present in the United States is actually a crime).  If the probation department and the Judge are no good, what should I do?

Failing to show up at Court is not the answer.  All this does is compound your problems.  Eventually, you will be stopped for speeding or have some other police contact.  The police may even come to your house and arrest you for the warrant.  If you are arrested in this manner, it may be more difficult to obtain bond, and it may be difficult to obtain any form of leniency from the prosecutor and/or the Judge.

Your best best is to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer, such as Attorney Daniel Hilf of Hilf & Hilf, PLC to defend your case.  How can an experienced criminal lawyer help?

1.Obtaining a reasonable bail.  One of the first issues that someone faces when accused of a crime is the issue of bond.  If bond is too high and the undocumented alien Defendant is placed in jail, it could lead to an immigration detainer. An immigration detainer means the alien is incarcerated until and unless the detainer is lifted.  This could mean the alien is detained for weeks, months, or possibly until they are placed on an airplane to head back to their home country.  An experienced criminal defense lawyer may be able to obtain a personal bond, or a low bond that can be posted prior to the imposition of an immigration detainer.

2.  Help obtain a result may prevent immigration consequences.  Sometimes an experienced criminal defense lawyer can litigate the case in a manner to obtain a dismissal.  If there was a violation of your rights, or the evidence is lacking, the lawyer may be able to fight to have the case dismissed.  Sometimes an experienced criminal lawyer can negotiate a resolution through a plea bargain or an agreement with the Court to avoid immigration consequences from being imposed or discovered by ICE.

If you are detained by ICE there may be avenues to help you get released if you hire an experienced immigration lawyer such as Attorney Sufen Hilf.

  1.  Obtain Immigration Bond.  You may be able to obtain an immigration bond from an Immigration Judge.  The Immigration Judge usually needs to be convinced that you are not a flight risk, you do not pose a risk to the community, you do not pose a risk to the national security, and you have some form of potential immigration relief.
  2. Advocate potential forms of immigration relief on your behalf.  Potential immigration reliefs could include: cancellation of removal, waivers, asylum (if you have a credible fear of returning to your home country), and derivative citizenship.  If you are not eligible for immigration relief, your lawyer can try and obtain voluntary departure for you.  You need to consult with an experienced immigration lawyer to understand what forms of relief you may be eligible for.

If you have an immigration court date and you fail to attend you have an order of deportation in abstentia.  This means the Immigration Judge can order you deported even though you were not in court to present a defense.  It also may lead to a bar from your ability to lawfully return to the United States anytime soon.  If you have an Immigration Court date you must attend.  It you have an Immigration Court date you should retain an experienced immigration lawyer.

One of the advantages of Hilf & Hilf, PLC is that we have great lawyers that are well versed and experienced in both criminal law and immigration law.  Our lawyers work as a team to help you obtain the best possible result.