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Appealing criminal charges that lead to deportation

Dallas, TX |

I'm a former Legal Permanent Resident. I had filed for citizenship. Before it was approved, I was convicted through a plea bargain in 2001 on one count of mail fraud for $900 in North Texas District Court. I was sentenced to 24 months in Federal Prison. Upon release, I was handed over to Immigration for deportation. I was deported in March 2006.

On or around January 25, 2005, I read in the Dallas Morning News that "JUSTICES SEND BACK 400 APPEALS TO BE REVIEWED" It reads .....The Supreme Court asked federal courts Monday, to reconsider sentences for hundreds of defendants who contend they were wrongly punished under a sentencing system the court declared unconstitutional this month.

Justices instructed the lower courts to review more than 400 appeals from defendants sentenced for crimes ranging from drug possession to theft to securities fraud. About 60 were from Texas, with a dozen from the Northern District in Dallas.

The defendants had argued that the judges had improperly boosted their sentences based on factors that had not come before jurors during trial. The Supreme Court ruled Jan. 12, 2005, that the federal guidelines violated a defendant's Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial because the 18 year old guidelines required judges to make factual decisions that affect prison time, such as the amount of drugs involved in a crime or amount of money involved in fraud. Under the ruling the guidelines are no longer mandatory, but advisory; as a result, federal judges are free to sentence convicted criminals as they see fit, but they may be subject to reversal if appeals courts find them "unreasonable"

In all, thousands of cases are expected to be reviewed by the lower courts. End of article.

Here's my situation: My case is one of those counted in the thousands of cases expected to be reviewed. The problem is that I've since been deported, I have no more money left to fight this case. When I was in immigration custody, I filed an appeal to stop my deportation in 2003 and 2004. At that time, this ruling had not been reached. I was deported in 2006 for 20 years and there's no waiver. This is a life sentence. My one count of mail fraud was for $900 because only one victim came to court. When I was in court, I argued that I had refunded him $350.00 so the balance is $550.00. I also argued that I had not defrauded those other victims, but my attorney was compromised. I was deported because the list of victims was totaling $16,000 loss to victims. Immigration law states something like "if the loss or amount of money involved in the crime is over $10,000" you get deported. No victims came to court for the rest of the $9,100 that I had pleaded guilty to, and that was the center of the deportation case.

Prosecutor listed the total amount of money obtained by fraud as $140,000, that's how I got the 24 months under the USSG and was a total of all the money I ever earned in four different businesses not associated with this mail fraud, e.g. auto repair shop, daycare center, loan processor, foster parent, renting houses to section 8 where the government paid by checks that could be traced where I got the money from, etc.. I had three different bank accounts, the prosecutor counted them all in one because they were accounts in my name and two business names.

I have two American children and I had lived in the United States for 20 years as a productive citizen, five years in custody of Federal govt. and Immigration. I was a single parent. I came when I was 19 years old. Can someone please help me file an appeal pro bono? Or can you please help me locate any attorney who can help me file a pro bono appeal? Life is very hard for me here. I'm mostly alienated from my family members whom I had lost contact with during those 25 years. My work experience in the United States does not apply in my country and I've remained unemployed. Thank you very much

Attorney Answers 1


Your best bet is to start with your former Attorney. If you did not hire your own attorney at that time, you were probably represented by the Office of the Federal Public Defender in Texas. You should contact that office in Dallas and talk to them.

Now, the ruling you are talking about would help you with a reduction in your sentence, but is not likely to help you with your immigration issues. The problems with the USSG Guidelines being "mandatory" at the time of your conviction really only helps you to change the sentence you received. However, since it sounds like you have already served the sentence, this is not much help to you.

Each case is different and I cannot say what would happen in your case. However, it is likely that your deportation status will not change. Anyway, you should check with the Office of the Federal Public Defender to see if they will take your case, or if they can refer you to a good Dallas Area Attorney.

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