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

By Graciela Martinez and Evan Franzel

A criminal defense attorney is starting a normal workday in state criminal court for her client’s arraignment. The attorney’s client was arrested the previous day and spent the night in jail. She was not able to visit her client last night and now she is meeting her client for the first time. She has been waiting in the courtroom going over the file, noting that her client has no prior convictions, and reading the police report and the complaint for the pending case. Her client is charged with one misdemeanor count of possession of marijuana for sale and a second count of misdemeanor transportation of marijuana for sale.1 The district attorney (DA) has offered to drop the transportation count if the client pleads to possession and the DA will recommend that the client receive a probationary sentence, which, knowing the judge, will likely be granted. The DA also informs defense counsel that a witness statement in the police report likely will support amending the complaint to add a felo

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