Protecting Immigrant Rights in Post-Conviction Relief Motions

According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), there are over 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. These individuals face significant challenges in the legal system, including language barriers, lack of access to legal representation, and discrimination based on their immigration status. As President Obama said: “Our immigration system is broken, and everybody knows it.”

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Understanding Post-Conviction Relief Motions

Post-conviction relief motions allow immigrants to dispute their criminal convictions after the trial. This can be done through various legal means, such as direct appeals, writs of habeas corpus, and petitions for post-conviction relief. These motions help ensure that justice is served and constitutional rights are upheld.

What’s a Post-Conviction Relief Motion?

A post-conviction relief motion is a legal petition that allows individuals convicted of a crime to contest their conviction or sentence. This motion can be filed after the trial, sentencing, and direct appeal. Other than ineffective assistance of counsel, other reasons for filing such motions include:

  • New Evidence: The defendant may seek relief if new evidence arises that was not available during the original trial.
  • Constitutional Violations: The convicted person may seek relief if constitutional rights violations occur during the trial or sentencing process. The basis of these motions could include due process violations, double jeopardy, or the right to a fair trial.
  • Brady Violations: A Brady violation occurs when the prosecution fails to disclose evidence that could prove the defendant’s innocence to their lawyer. 
  • DNA Evidence: New DNA testing techniques can be helpful for the defendant.
  • Changes in the Law: A person may seek relief if a law changes and affects their conviction or sentence.
  • Sentencing Errors: If there were errors in calculating a defendant’s sentence or if the sentencing was unlawful, they may request post-conviction relief. 

The Role of Post-Conviction Motions in Protecting Immigrant Rights

Post-conviction relief motions are critical in protecting immigrants’ rights within the legal system. These motions allow people to contest constitutional violations or errors that may have occurred during their trial despite their immigration status. When immigrants seek post-conviction relief, they can clear their records of erroneous or inappropriate convictions so they can pursue opportunities that the convictions made impossible.

Types of Convictions that Affect Immigration Status

Certain criminal convictions can affect an individual’s immigration status. For immigrants, even minor offenses such as traffic violations can result in deportation. Some of the common types of convictions that can affect an immigrant’s status include felony DUIs, drug-related offenses, felonies, and domestic violence offenses.

Filing Procedures

Each type of post-conviction relief motion has its own filing procedures and deadlines. Additionally, each court will have its own procedural rules that must be observed. Although you might be tempted to handle a post-conviction relief motion on your own to save money, it won’t be worth it. Hire an immigration lawyer who knows criminal law as well. Your lawyer will know which motions would be most helpful in your circumstances. They’ll know when, where, and how to file them. Let them do the hard work for you.

Where and How to File in Nevada

Post-conviction relief motions must be filed in the district court where the conviction occurred in Nevada. Any motion must be written and clearly state the legal grounds for relief. Any supporting evidence or documentation must be attached to the motion.

Statute of Limitations

Every state has a statute of limitations that dictates the time frame for filing certain cases or motions. In Nevada, the law allows a year to file a petition that challenges a sentence or judgment. If this deadline is missed, the case may not be able to proceed. Other types of post-conviction relief motions may have different deadlines. Talk with a Nevada immigration and criminal defense lawyer to determine what deadlines apply to your circumstances.

Importance of Legal Representation

Immigrants facing deportation or other repercussions may struggle to pursue post-conviction relief motions. If you’re an immigrant who needs post-conviction relief and you’re concerned that your rights were left unprotected or your motion was filed inappropriately, you should seek legal representation.

Having a knowledgeable and experienced attorney working for you will also increase your chances of success. In addition to helping gather evidence and argue legal points, they can file any legal documentation for you. They can represent you in court when arguing that you deserve post-conviction relief, and they can explain any procedures related to your case along the way. 

Challenges and Hurdles

While post-conviction relief motions are available, immigrants may still face many problems and difficulties in using them. Among these are language barriers, lack of legal representation, and discrimination based on immigration status. If you find yourself in this situation, getting an immigration lawyer immediately is your best option.

Overcoming Procedural Barriers

Immigrants may face court-related obstacles when obtaining post-conviction relief, such as missed filing deadlines or failure to satisfy certain criteria. Nevertheless, with the assistance of skilled legal counsel, individuals can overcome these problems and pursue relief from their convictions.

Addressing Immigration Consequences

Although post-conviction relief motions can contest convictions and prevent negative immigration consequences, the most effective approach for immigrants is to avoid criminal convictions entirely. Because some crimes can result in deportation, you must get help from someone who can explain your options, advise you about which ones work best, and then implement that option.

Navigating State vs. Federal Jurisdictions

Certain offenses may indeed result in deportation only at the state level, but they can also lead to detention and removal proceedings at the federal level as well. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that being convicted of a state offense is “safe.” 

Seeking Legal Advice

Being convicted of anything is scary enough. Being an immigrant and having a conviction on your record is another level of frightening, particularly if the offense is one that could result in your deportation. The first thing you should do after your conviction is seek a qualified immigration and criminal defense attorney who knows how to handle post-conviction relief motions. 

Call an Immigration Lawyer Today

If you are an immigrant with a conviction on your record, you should call us without delay. The team at De Castroverde Criminal & Immigration has experience with post-conviction relief motions and advocating for immigrant rights within the legal system. Contact us today for a consultation to discuss your case.