One crime that often gets overlooked when it comes to immigration purposes and criminal scoring guidelines is “Accessory After the Fact.” On its face the crime appears to be an afterthought in the criminal justice system. However, there are severe consequences that could include a stay at the Michigan Department of Corrections, county jail and even deportation.
The seminal case for “Accessory After the Fact” is People v Luca, 402 Mich 302, 304; 262 NW2d 662 (1978). In Luca, the court defines the crime as “one who, with knowledge of the other’s guilt, renders assistance to a felon in the effort to hinder his detection, arrest, trial or punishment.” While the crime has always effected incarceration, more recently the charge has led to have severe immigration consequences. To discuss this matter at length, we obtained commentary from several of the top attorneys in Michigan.
Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates and has put together a team that is considered amongst the best criminal defense firms in the state of Michigan. When speaking of the immigration consequences, Grabel stated, “The first thing we must review is whether this is considered a crime of moral turpitude. Crimes of moral turpitude will almost always trigger immigration consequences. This charge is a gray area because it is deemed an inchoate crime and we would have to examine the principal charge to see where we stand.”
Jennifer Kelley is a Senior Associate for McManus and Amadeo and known as a top family law across the state of Michigan. Kelley stated, “Immigration consequences often have a large impact on child custody and divorce decrees. What will move the court on this charge is whether the crime is considered an aggravated felony.”
Megan Smith is an Associate Attorney for Tanis Schultz and Grabel and Associates. Known as a leader in criminal defense in Kent County, Smith stated, “The crime in and of itself does not equate to an aggravated felony but that is somewhat deceptive. If the sentence would equate to more than one year, the charge is now an aggravated felony and could trigger deportation.”
Ravi Gurumurthy runs his own law firm in Cadillac, Michigan and works with Grabel and Associates. A top litigator across Northern Michigan, Gurumurthy commented, “We must turn to case law when we determine other grounds of deportation on this criminal charge. In “Matter of Rivers, 25 I & N Dec. 623 (BIA 2011) we have seen that the court will look at the underlying crime and also examine what the original charge was in addition to a plea bargain when you review this statute.”
Nancy Eaton-Gordon is a solo practitioner in Lenawee County, Michigan and has developed a strong reputation in the criminal field. Eaton Gordon stated, “We also must look at the Valenzuela Gallardo case (Matter of Valenzuela Gallardo, 27 I & N Dec. 449 (BIA 2018). In that case, we develop an understanding that protecting one from incarceration can also lead to deportation. Sometimes winning the battle could equate to losing the war so we must be cautious on any plea deal.”
William Amadeo is a partner at McManus and Amadeo and a Senior Associate for Grabel and Associates. Amadeo is known as one of the top defense lawyers across the state of Michigan and provided insight on this issue. Amadeo said, “Let’s be real, the legislation attached with immigration consequences now force more trials and if anybody disputes that they shouldn’t take the case. When you take a client that has immigration consequences you need to either prepare for trial or understand both aspects of the needs of your client. Some counties are concerned about such consequences, others care less. In those jurisdictions setting 12 in a box is better than allowing for deportation.”
With the immigration concerns at the forefront of litigation, a client that is not an American citizen and is charged with a crime needs to have an advocate that understands there is more than just a protection of freedom at stake.