We get many calls from clients asking us to review their criminal history or case in light of immigration consequences. One of the lower-level offenses that has traditionally gotten clients in trouble is a conviction for Assault Second Degree. For years, Maryland attorneys pled cases down to this “misdemeanor” because they thought it would be good for their client. And, truth be told if the State had a solid case against you for Attempted Murder or Assault First Degree it very likely may have been a good deal.

However, clients who are Lawful Permanent Residents or without status don’t realize the devastating effects of most criminal convictions. Under previous immigration law, Maryland Second Degree Assault was considered to be an Aggravated Felony under immigration law. Having an Aggravated Felony has devastating effects in Immigration Court. Not only will you lose your LPR status you are barred from applying for many avenues of relief.

Eventually, an important case came down holding that Maryland Second Degree Assault is not categorically a crime of violence. United States v. Royal, 731 F.3d 333 (4th Cir. 2013). So what happens with people who lost immigration benefits or legal status because of the previous case law? There are no guarantees, but there is a movement in the Immigration Courts to allow people to file a Motion to Reopen their case based on changes in the law. For example, a recent case out of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a denial for Motion to Reopen because the lower court failed to consider the equitable tolling argument of the respondent. See Lugo-Resendez v. Lynch, 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 13752 (5th Cir. 2016). The Court of Appeals instructed the lower court to examine the claim of the Respondent which was based on the fact that the law had changed from when the respondent had been originally been removed from the country. Id.

Our firm handles both immigration and criminal defense in Maryland. If you believe the law has changed in a way that is more favorable to you, or would like us to examine the possibility, give us a call at 301.513.7832 or email us at justin.eisele@seddiqlaw.com.