U.S. Supreme Court Ruling on Drug Possession Affects Deportation
Immigrants who commit an aggravated felony are subject to deportation under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) whether they have legal status and are productive or are illegally present in the United States.
The L.A. Times recently reported that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled seven to two in the case Moncrieffe vs. Holder that possession of a small amount of marijuana is not an aggravated felony. For an aggravated felony, the authorities must prove that the defendant contained significant amounts of the drug or sold drugs. The case the U.S. Supreme Court reviewed involved a Jamaican male defendant, Adrian Moncrieffe who lived legally in Georgia since 1984 and had been convicted of marijuana possession with intent to distribute. However, he had possessed 1.3 grams of marijuana in his car which was equal to two or three marijuana cigarettes, not a significant amount. The criminal court put Moncrieffe on probation but he was subject to deportation under the INA because his crime was an "aggravated felony." Federal prosecutors claimed the man was involved in drug trafficking despite the fact that no money had been exchanged.
This ruling is a breakthrough for non-citizens who face deportation for minor drug crimes that were viewed as insignificant in state or federal criminal courts but as serious felonies under federal immigration law.
The legal area of immigration is constantly subject to change through cases like this one that establish precedents. If you face a threat of deportation, defend your rights by consulting with a New York deportation attorney.