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What are my options/best defense when facing deportation for aggravated felony charges & failure to appear in immigr court?

Los Angeles, CA |

My Best friend perm. resident, committed a felony in 2001 (selling/possing cntr'l sub). Committed=Served 6 months. Afterwards a letter was mailed for court appearance regarding immigration status which was never received; claimed that it was also mailed to the defense attorney which he never informed. Currently detained in CA detention center. Current attorney is working on a petition for appeal. Hoping this lawyer doesn't drop the ball like the prior, what are the possible outcomes? Probability he'll get bail? Release? Is this considered a high priority case? What are the factors? Best defense against deportation?

I've never been in trouble and nothing to this caliber, hence please explain thoroughly.
Thank you in advance, I appreciate your time+feedback

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Attorney answers 3

Best Answer

You need to meet with an immigration attorney who is an expert in immigration and criminal cross-over issues. When you say that you face "aggravated felony charges" what do you mean? Did you have a qualified immigration lawyer review your file and tell you that your conviction constitutes an "aggravated felony" under federal immigration law? I sincerely hope not, for your sake! An aggravated felony conviction will bar you from most forms of immigration relief.

Regarding bail, if he has a serious conviction, he'll likely trigger an "ICE Hold" and therefore be ineligible for bail, unless you find an immigration lawyer who can ask the judge to grant him a reasonable bond to get him out.

Regarding his "failure to appear in immigration court" - normally when an immigrant fails to appear in immigration court, the judge will issue what is called an "in absentia removal order" and order you deported. If this has happened to you, you are in serious trouble, and you will absolutely need to meet with an immigration attorney ASAP to determine whether you might be able to reopen your case - or if you're eligible for some other type of immigration relief.

Regarding your last question of "is this considered a high priority case". The answer is yes! ICE considers all serious criminals to be a high priority for deportation.

In conclusion, my best advice is for you is to meet with an immigration law expert who is also a criminal law expert (Norton Tooby and Karl Krooth are two that I know off hand), and see whether or not they can help you. The thing to keep in mind is your process will be expensive, will be long, and will be difficult, but if you want to avoid deportation, it will be necessary.

Good luck,

Otis C. Landerholm, Esq.



First and foremost, you hit it right on the money. I greatly appreciate your response; for being the only one taking the time to answer my question thoroughly and not automating a generic response that I commonly see plastered to many of the questions. Commenter’s like you is what drives this forum and patrons’ satisfaction. He is a good person and the felony charge was bogus to begin with. I assume it’s considered aggravated because possessing a controlled substance is classified as that. And you are dead on with your next response- Yes! That was what I wanted to know. If it was possible for him to submit a 10yr bar? I know it will be expensive but we are serious and prepared to pay a qualified motivated attorney that get results with a proven track record. Money is no object. I do appreciate your advice and will be contacting them soon in the near future depending on the trajectory of his case. Thank you again for your patience and understanding in this matter!


Too many questions on a complex, fact and law specific case. This is a general immigration forum. How can we tell you what "the possible outcome" will be, without knowing all the details of the case? If you are so worried about this one, then you should schedule a consultation with a reputable attorney in LA for a "second" of third opinion..

Behar Intl. Counsel 619.234.5962 Kindly be advised that the answer above is only general in nature cannot be construed as legal advice, given that not enough facts are known. It is your responsibility to retain a lawyer to analyze the facts specific to your particular situation in order to give you specific advice. Specific answers will require cognizance of all pertinent facts about your case. Any answers offered on Avvo are of a general nature only, and are not meant to create an attorney-client relationship.



It is my intention to get a second option once i gather more background and information. I am a UC graduate and pursuing my master's. In any study I conduct, I always do my research before my research. I am merely collecting responses to aid in narrowing my search. My previous UC, has a lawyer on retainer that offers free and thorough consultation to their students. Since I'm no longer a student there, this site helps tremendously. I didn't ask this question looking for a concise verdict/ruling which no one would be able to provide and wouldn't provide anyway without monetary gain so details wouldnt matter. Instead, if anyone, in their scope of work, has encountered a client with these two factors impeding their immigration status, regardless of external variables; What was their outcome???


The person in trouble should be seeking advice from an attorney directly; you may not even know all of the facts in his case, many of which may make a huge difference.

Curt Harrington Patent & Tax Law Attorney Certified Tax Specialist by the California Board of Legal Specialization PATENTAX.COM This communication is general information and not legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. This communication should not be relied upon as any type of legal advice. Please note that no attorney-client relationship exists between the sender and the recipient of this message in the absence of either (1) a signed fee contract and (2) remission of an agreed-upon retainer. Absent such an agreement and retainer, I am not engaged by you as an attorney, nor is any other member of my law firm.



I completely agree- I don't know all the facets to his case and haven't had a chance to meet with his lawyer since he is on vacation. However, you have to understand that once a person is detained the only connection that person has to the outside world is his lawyer (which is gone for the moment) and his friends. I do plan on meeting with another attorney once I have a better understanding of immigration law and when I get a hold of his case file. I just would like to know what some of the outcomes are if anyone had a client in a similar situation.

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