I am thrilled to report that a beloved client was found not guilty of Operating Under the Influence of alcohol (OUI) earlier today. This case had extra significance because the client is not a US citizen and a conviction for OUI could have very serious immigration consequences.
People charged with OUI for the first time are typically offered a Continuance Without a Finding disposition which allows them to admit to “sufficient facts” without actually pleading guilty and then go on probation for 1-2 years. If they complete probation successfully (which includes completing a alcohol treatment program), the case is dismissed. This can be an extremely attractive disposition for US citizens but is simply not a good option for non-citizens. A Continuance Without a Finding is treated as the equivalent of a conviction by immigration authorities and a drunk driving conviction is an enforcement priority for ICE and can lead to removal of a non-citizen or denial of admission. If you are a non-citizen charged with an OUI you need an attorney knowledgeable about immigration consequences.
I regularly receive referrals from Boston-area immigration lawyers whose clients have been accused of crimes because they know that I will not plead a non-citizen out to dispositions that will result in severe immigration consequences. I am never afraid to take a tough case to trial and with a non-citizen client, a plea or CWOF simply may not be a reasonable option.