G.C. entered the United States in the early 1980’s with a tourist visa. Several years after the tourist visa expired, he married a U.S. citizen and applied for a green card. His application was denied and Immigration and Naturalization Services (“INS”) ordered his removal in the mid 1980’s. G.C. avoided INS surveillance when he obtained a fraudulent birth certificate and passport under another name (T.B.) and used those documents to acquire a New York State driver’s license in the mid 1990’s under the false name, T.B.
G.C. lived and worked using the false name of T.B. until 2006, when he married his partner of nine years, who was a U.S. Citizen. At this point in time, G.C. had four children who were all United States Citizens as well.
On these grounds, G.C. re-opened his immigration case and successfully obtained permanent residency status in April of 2007. At this time, G.C. went back to using his original name.
When G.C. went to the Department of Motor Vehicles (“DMV”) to apply for a new driver’s license, the driver’s license application form asked: “Have you ever applied for a Driver’s License using another name?”
G.C. answered, “No.”
For five years, nothing happened to G.C. When his license was set to renew in February 2012, G.C. went to the DMV and applied for a renewal. Again, the application form asked: “Have you ever applied for a Driver’s License using another name?”
And once more, G.C. answered, “No.”
Three months later, in mid-June of 2012, G.C. was arrested by the New York State Police for two counts of Penal Law § 175.35, Filing a False Instrument in the 1st degree: One count for each time G.C. said on his driver’s license application that he had not used a different name in the past when applying for a driver’s license.
G.C. was shocked, scared, concerned, and clueless. One minute he was a lawful permanent resident on his way to becoming a citizen, the next minute he was being charged with serious felony crime and in jeopardy of losing his legal status, his family, his job, and his whole life in the United States.
Under the immigration laws, if a permanent resident is convicted of a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude (“CIMT”) within five years of obtaining their permanent residency, they can be deported.
Unfortunately for G.C., Filing a False Instrument in the 1st degree is a CIMT and he was charged with this crime within five years of acquiring his green card, thus making him deportable if convicted.
He retained the Portela Law Firm, P.C. to defend against these criminal charges and to do whatever it takes to preserve G.C.’s legal status as a permanent resident and keep him in this country.
G.C. was arraigned on July 25, 2012 in Nassau County’s First District Court. The Nassau County District Attorney’s office, known for being the toughest District Attorney’s office in the State of New York requested $2,000.00 bail and that he remain in custody while the case is pending. The Portela Law Firm, P.C. argued that G.C. be released on his own recognizance, considering his strong family ties to the local community, his work history, and his clean criminal record. The Judge released G.C. without setting bail and adjourned the case for a pre-trial conference on July 31, 2013.
On July 31, 2013, The Portela Law Firm, P.C. arranged a meeting prior to the pre-trial conference with the assigned Assistant District Attorney on the case, Jessica Cepriano.
At this meeting, the firm pushed for a non-criminal disposition to the case, arguing that G.C. did not intentionally lie on the application, that he had disclosed his fraudulent name to INS when he applied for his green card in 2007, and that he had spent thirty years in this country working and providing emotionally and financially for his family. The firm went into particular detail about the educational successes of his children, the strength of his marriage, how he paid taxes to the government for thirty years and the fact that G.C. was truthful with INS about his prior false identity; that when he applied for his driver’s license in 2007 using his original name, he thought everything had been cleared and that he was starting fresh. When he renewed his driver’s license in 2012, he had moved past that dark chapter in his life almost five years and had used his original name when applying for his license in 2007 without any consequences.
The firm’s meeting with ADA Cepriano lasted forty-five minutes and at the conclusion of the meeting, the Portela Law Firm, P.C. pushed for a reduction from the Class E Felony to a charge of Penal Law 240.20, which is Disorderly Conduct. Disorderly Conduct is a violation and not a crime and carries no negative immigration consequences.
ADA Cepriano responded that she would have to talk to her supervisor and her investigators before making an offer of Disorderly Conduct.
The Portela Law Firm, P.C. and ADA Cepriano then went before the Judge and requested to adjourn the case for a possible disposition. The case was adjourned to October 1, 2012.
In between July 31, 2012 and October 1, 2012, The Portela Law Firm, P.C. made several phone calls to ADA Cepriano and left messages. In the alternative, the firm submitted written arguments on G.C.’s behalf to ADA Cepriano via email to strengthen the argument already made to her on July 31, 2012.
On September 28, 2012, ADA Cepriano contacted the firm and communicated that based on the content and substance of our meeting on July 31, 2012, and the emails she received from the firm since that time, she decided to reduce the two Class E Felony counts to a single Disorderly Conduct charge, a mere violation.
When G.C. received this information, he was thrilled and relieved at the same time.
The Portela Law Firm, P.C. successfully negotiated a deal with the toughest District Attorney’s Office in New York that left G.C.’s criminal record clean with no immigration consequences whatsoever.
On October 1, 2012, G.C. pled guilty to the violation (not a crime) of Disorderly Conduct and the Judge stated on the record, before a packed court house, “Your attorney did a great job for you.”
G.C. has applied for his citizenship and continues to live happily with his wife and children.
If you are charged with a serious crime as a US citizen or a Legal Permanent Resident, contact the Portela Law Firm, P.C. to defend your rights. Visit the firm's website at: http://www.newyorkimmigrantdefenselawyer.com