Under current immigration laws, if a person commits an aggravated felony in Los Angeles, he or she will be deported. Pretty clear-cut, right? Not entirely. What constitutes an aggravated felony exactly has been called into question, especially in state drug convictions. Currently, a drug offense is categorized into an aggravated felony if the consequences of that offense include more than a year in prison. However, there is an exception for drug offenses involving distributing small amounts of marijuana without being paid or remunerated for it.
This exception was the center of a case that was heard by the Supreme Court recently. A man was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute after he was stopped by police officers who found 1.3 grams of the drug in his possession. After he plead guilty to the felony charge, federal authorities wanted to deport him because they felt his criminal conviction showed that he had committed an aggravated felony.
The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the man saying that immigrants who are in the U.S. legally who share a small amount of marijuana socially are not subject to automatic deportation. Instead, they have a right to an immigration proceeding to argue their case.
If you have been convicted of a drug crime and face the chance of an automatic deportation like this man did, you would be well advised to seek the advice of a lawyer to help you with your case. Doing so may give you the opportunity to plead your case in court and avoid deportation.
Source: Source: The New York Times, “Court Rules for Immigrant on Deportation in Drug Case,” Adam Liptak, April 23, 2013