The Mazza Law Group, P.C.
2790 W. College Ave., Suite 800
State College, PA 16801 March 10, 2016
(814) 237-6255

International Student: Immigration Consequences of Criminal Charges

Consider the following scenario:  Jacques is a foreign national and is admitted to a university in the United States.  He goes to the US consulate in his home country to apply for the visa.  After all the paperwork is in order and he is deemed to be admissible to the US, he is granted a visa.  With that visa, he can enter the US, attend school as an international student, and travel home to visit over the holidays, re-entering the US for the next semester at school.

However, let’s assume Jacques is arrested for Driving Under the Influence, or Possession of Marijuana and Paraphernalia.  Not to worry, the police officer tells him, and perhaps even his lawyer tells him, because he is eligible for a first-offender program which places him on probation without a conviction on his record.   He is told to just stay out of trouble and pay the fine, and that will be the end of it.

Unfortunately, many international students learn the hard way that they face the prospect of having their student visas revoked and being deemed “inadmissible” to the United States.  Even though their offenses may be misdemeanors and they receive minimal punishment, immigration laws are strict with regards to alcohol and controlled substance offenses. Some students may get notice that the visa has been revoked, while others may not learn until they attempt to return to the US after visiting home.

A foreign national charged with a crime should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who is well versed in immigration law, or who will consult with an immigration attorney, as soon as possible- even if charges have not yet been filed, because an attorney may be able to engage in helpful negotiations with law enforcement or prosecutors.  After charges are filed- the “crimmigration” attorney can work to help Jacques resolve the charges in a way that minimizes his immigration consequences as a international student and in the future.

If Jacques does receive notice that his visa has been revoked, he should consult with an immigration attorney before traveling outside the United States.  The attorney can help him decide whether he should return home to apply for a new visa, and if he does, how best to present himself during that process.

If you are an international student at Penn State or Lock Haven University and you have had contact with law enforcement, call to schedule an appointment with the immigration and criminal defense attorneys at The Mazza Law Group, PC.

DUI blood test – new development in law

New Developments in law from the Supreme Court involving a DUI blood test.

In a decision last week, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a ruling which has already started to change the way DUI cases will be prosecuted and defended in Pennsylvania.

In Birchfield v. N. Dakota, the Supreme Court held that a driver placed under arrest under suspicion of DUI may not be subjected to a warrantless blood test to test for alcohol, but may be subjected to a warrantless breath test.  The Court held that the DUI blood test is much more intrusive than a breath test, and requires that police obtain a warrant.

Also at issue was whether a driver may be penalized criminally for failure to take a blood test.  Since a driver has a constitutional right to refuse a warrantless search, the court’s decision reasoned that such a refusal should not result in increased criminal penalties.  However, non-criminal consequences, such as a driver’s license suspension, may still be permitted.

In Pennsylvania, many jurisdictions utilize blood testing in DUI enforcement.  In requesting that a motorist consent to a blood draw, the police have been advising motorists that they may refuse, but they face increased penalties if convicted of the Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol after refusing.

This scheme is being challenged in DUI prosecutions across the state as violating the Supreme Court’s ruling which prohibits states from imposing criminal penalties (such as an increased sentence) when individuals refuse a blood test.  This case could even impact those who have agreed to take such a test to avoid such increased penalties.  Defense lawyers are preparing to file motions to suppress blood test results in many of these cases.

At The Mazza Law Group, the DUI defense lawyers have decades of experience. If you find yourself charged with a DUI or related offense, contact us for a consultation.