What is the difference between Immigration Court and Criminal Court?

Many of my clients make the mistake in assuming that a Criminal Judge can make decisions regarding your Immigration status and vice versa. This however is not the case, as they are two very separate judicial entities.

The Immigration court is a federal court and uses federal rules and law. An Immigration judge does not have the discretion or jurisdiction to make decisions regarding your criminal case. The Judge will look at what the ruling or final judgment was on your criminal case and makes a decision based on that. He or she will not consider the merits, that is the facts, of your criminal case and decide whether you were wrongfully charged or convicted. The underlying facts are not important to the Immigration Judge, and he does not have the discretion to consider them in making a decision regarding your Immigration status.

The Criminal Court is a state court and uses state law. A Criminal judge will advise you that a criminal conviction can affect your immigration status but he has no authority to decide on any immigration matter. He or she will consider the merits of your criminal case and make a ruling. Immigration status will be decided by the immigration judge based on that ruling.

The best way to assure that your Criminal and Immigration rights are protected is to hire two attorneys that are knowledgeable in their respective fields. An experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney will know a good Immigration attorney that they can work with closely to get the best possible results for your case.