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Denver Reforms Criminal Sentences to Protect Low Level Offenders from Deportation

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Denver Reforms Criminal Sentences to Protect Low Level Offenders from Deportation

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The maximum possible sentence for a criminal offense often impacts the potential immigration consequences for conviction. In particular, whether an offense has the potential to render a noncitizen deportable may depend on whether the maximum possible sentence is one year or longer under 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(2)(A)(i).

Until now, Denver municipal offenses generally carried a maximum possible sentence of 365 days, meaning that many low-level offenses had the potential to trigger deportation, even for those who are in lawful immigration status.

This week, the city of Denver announced sentencing reforms which seek to alleviate deportation concerns for many low-level offenders. Under the new sentencing structure, the penalties will be as follows:

  • For minor crimes (urinating in public, violating park curfew, encumbrances) the maximum penalty would be 60 days;
  • For most crimes the maximum sentence would be 300 days;
  • For violent crimes (multiple domestic violence, sex crimes and serious injury) the sentence would be a maximum of 365 days.

These reforms are only applicable to violations of the Denver Municipal Code—not to violations of state statute. Also, it is important to note that many immigration consequences flowing from criminal convictions are not dependent on the maximum possible sentence.  So while these reforms are welcome and important, it remains as important as ever that any noncitizen charged with any crime consult with a qualified immigration attorney before entering any guilty plea to a criminal charge.  To set up a consultation with an immigration attorney at Joseph & Hall P.C., call our office at 303-297-9171.

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