Discussion Points for Punto Legal –February 06, 2019
1. Success story.
We have a Spanish-speaking criminal defense attorney in our office. I want to share the story of a recent case he handled. Several years ago, the lawmakers in Colorado decided that you had to do 60 days of jail for a third DUI or Driving While Ability Impaired or DWAI. A client from Eagle County came to us on his third DWAI. He had two prior DUI convictions on his record. He was convicted of DUI and awaited sentencing before a county court judge who was required to give him 60 days of jail. Our client insisted he would be fired by his employer if he went to jail for 60 days. We noticed that he had not been represented by a lawyer at these two previous conviction. So we told the judge that he could not consider the two previous convictions and had to sentence our man as if this were his first DUI conviction. The judge disagreed with us. Then we appealed. We won the appeal. The case then came back down to county court where the judge decided the two old DUI’s could not be counted as previous convictions. Our client was spared from jail.
2. Adam Walsh Act.
When I talk to people who want to become permanent residents, I ask them about their criminal history because certain crimes can require waivers or prevent you from immigrating. Sometimes the U.S. relative who is petitioning for his spouse or children wants to know if his criminal history is relevant to the process. I tell them that we have fixed papers even where a citizen -petitioner was in prison. But there is one exception to this rule. A law entitled the Adam Walsh Act, which was passed in 2006 imposes immigration penalties on U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are convicted of certain crimes against minors. A U.S. citizen who is convicted of a “specified offense against a minor” may be prevented from filing a visa petition on behalf of a close family member. The law provides an exception only if the immigration service makes a discretionary decision that the citizen or the permanent resident petitioner does not pose a risk to the petitioned relative despite the conviction. Here is an example: Hector is a U.S. citizen who pled guilty in 2005 to soliciting a 17-year-old girl to engage in sexual conduct. In 2017 he submits a visa petition on behalf of his immigrant wife. Immigration authorities will run a background check on his name to discover the prior conviction. His visa petition will be denied unless he is able to obtain a waiver based on proving that he is not a danger to his wife. “Specified offense against a minor” includes offenses that are not extremely serious, such as false imprisonment. It is defined as an offense against a victim who has not attained the age of 18 years, which involves any of the following acts:
(A) kidnapping, unless committed by a parent or guardian; (B) false imprisonment, unless committed by a parent or guardian; (C) solicitation to engage in sexual conduct; (D) use in sexual performance; (E) solicitation to practice prostitution; (F) possession, production, or distribution of child pornography; (G) criminal sexual conduct involving a minor or (H) any other conduct that by its nature is a sex offense against a minor.
3. Criminal Practice at Ted Hess & Associates.
We have a criminal defense attorney who speaks Spanish! His name is Sam Crary. Sam is busy in the criminal cases in Eagle County and Glenwood Springs. He is handling a variety of criminal cases from DUI cases to sexual assault cases. He also understands immigration law. Now, you don’t have to hire an American attorney who can’t speak Spanish and does not understand immigration law. You can hire a criminal defense attorney who will (1) defend you in court, (2) know immigration law and (3) explain everything in Spanish.