Last month I had the honor of speaking at the Florida Public Defender Association’s 30th Annual “Trial with Style Conference” in unfortunately rainy Fort Lauderdale. While in one of my former lives as a state prosecutor and I like to think I always tried my cases with style, during this conference I did not talk about anything specifically to do with trying a case.
My topic was “Crimmigration: the intersection of Criminal and Immigration Law.” Let me preface this piece with the following caveat; not all immigrants are criminals (sorry Donald Trump) and recent research has shown that foreign-born residents are less likely to commit serious and violent crimes than native-born citizens.
That being said, this subject is of great interest to most criminal defense attorneys in Florida. Florida has the fourth-highest foreign-born population in the U.S. Almost 20% of all residents in Florida were born in another country. Because Florida is now the third largest state with a total population of over 20 million, that means we have roughly four million foreign-born people living in Florida. Florida is also top 10 in the country in crime rate. You combine all of these factors, and you see why criminal defense attorneys need to know immigration law.
If you practice criminal law in Florida for any amount of time, you will represent someone who is not a citizen. That means that on top of the myriad of other negative consequences of a criminal arrest and conviction, you also have to worry about the negative immigration consequences. The criminal defense attorneys at the conference asked me for recommendations of immigration attorneys they could call in different parts of the state. Who is a good Orlando immigration attorney, who is a good one in Tampa, and so on.
The truth is, immigration attorneys can practice all over the state of Florida and all over the country. We are not limited to one geographical area. So no matter whether you need a good Miami immigration attorney or Jacksonville immigration attorney who knows criminal law, as a criminal defense attorney, all you really need is one good and trusted immigration attorney to call when you need advice for a client who is not a citizen.
In one of my other former lives as a Senior Attorney with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), I would take calls from other government attorneys all over the country who asked me about crimmigration issues related to Florida convictions. The same holds true now that I am a private “Crimmigration Consultant.” Immigration and criminal defense attorneys and clients from all over Florida and the country can call me to consult regarding a Florida criminal conviction or on-going criminal prosecutions.
If you have been arrested for a crime in Florida and you are not a citizen, don’t rely on just your public defender or criminal defense attorney to worry about your immigration status, call a Crimmigration Consultant to work with you and your attorney to protect your rights.
If you are a criminal defense attorney in Florida, don’t dabble in immigration law, meet and make friends with a good immigration attorney you can rely on for advice. If you don’t know one already, give me a call or an email, I’d love to help.
John Gihon is a Florida Bar Board Certified expert in Immigration and Nationality Law and a Crimmigration Consultant.