The Basic Steps a Criminal Defender Must Take to Understand the Adverse Immigration Consequences

of Drug Offenses

When a criminal defense attorney sees a drug or drug-related charge alleged against a noncitizen client, the attorney should immediately think of immigration consequences. The main defense strategies for drug cases are as follows, in order of preference: (1) avoiding a drug conviction entirely through dismissal or negotiation; (2) if a drug conviction is unavoidable, avoid an aggravated felony; (3) plead to a substance that is not federally controlled; or (4) create a vague record of conviction as to the substance if the state law is overbroad.