Marijuana crimes

August 3, 2017

Dena Wurman, MPA, JD

Here are some reasons why an immigrant with a green card may be detained at the border for a past marijuana offense.

Immigration authorities are not concerned with the various and different marijuana laws of the 50 states.

A marijuana conviction is a federal matter in the immigration context and considered a crime of moral turpitude (CMT).

To complicate matters further, the immigration consequences to each individual depend on a number of factors.

These include a person’s immigration status, a prior criminal record and the specific contents of the court record of conviction.

One may be allowed back in to the country after a detention depending on whether exceptions to rules apply to your case.  One such is exception is for a  petty offense.  There are three hurdles one needs to overcome.   It applies if a person is convicted only one time.   The conviction must not occur within five years of legal entry into the US and the maximum possible sentence must be less than one year.

If you are an immigrant detained at the airport or border  this is referred to as an expedited removal.  During expedited removal, a person’s fingerprints will be taken, notice will be given, and the person will sign something.  Detention is usually more than 24 hours.

For attorneys representing clients in immigration detention, consider the following.

If your client is facing a conviction for only one crime involving moral turpitude and the crime was not committed within five years after his or her admission, s/he may not be deportable.

The analysis does not stop there. Consider whether s/he would become deportable under another ground, e.g., for conviction of an aggravated felony or of a crime of domestic violence.

It is best to contact an immigration attorney to review the unique facts of your case to determine your status.  For a complimentary phone consult, call (646) 580-0617.