Should Marijuana Distribution Crimes be Considered an Aggravated Felony for Immigration Law Purposes?

In Moncrieffe v. Holder, No. 11-702, the United States Supreme Court held that if a non-citizen has a conviction for a marijuana distribution crime is not automatically an "aggravated felony" for immigration law purposes. Instead, a marijuana distribution crime would only be considered a aggravated felony if it involved either renumeration or more than a small amount of cannabis. 


The SCOTUS decision was decided with a 7-2 split authored by Sotomayor with only Thomas and Alito dissenting.  

In the past, individuals with a conviction for a marijuana distribution crime would have faced deportation (unless in the rare instance that the non-citizen qualified for political asylum). 

The decision has big implications for non-citizens charged with marijuana crimes such as possession with intent to distribute. For non-citizens charged with a crime it is important that your criminal defense attorney work with an immigration attorney to help you make decisions about whether to go to trial or accept a plea deal. Even when the client decides not to go to trial, the plea deal must be structured in a way to minimize the immigration consequences. 

Read the decision in its entirety here - 

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