Defendant: Sofia Vergara

Sofia Vergara details are below. Click on a section to see more details.

I. Summary

Ms. Vergara is a Legal Permanent Resident who indicates her goals are preserving her current immigration status and her eligibility for bond from immigration detention.

II. Immigration History

Ms. Vergara was born in Colombia and became a Legal Permanent Resident of the U.S. in 1999. She is married to a U.S. citizen and has 4 U.S. citizen children.

III. Criminal History

Ms. Vergara has one prior criminal offense: pre-trial diversion, theft, Class B, McLennan Co, Feb 2007.

IV. Current charge(s) & Plea Offer(s)

Charge: Theft, Texas Penal Code 31.03, State Jail Felony
Plea Offer: Guilty; Suspended sentence: 18 months suspended for 3 years.

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Was Ms. Vergara’s prior offense (pre-trial diversion, theft, Class B, McLennan Co, Feb 2007), a conviction for immigration purposes?

V. Immigration Consequences of Pending Charge(s) & Recommendations

Removability: The charge/plea offer would make Ms. Vergara removable (deportable) from the United States. This means she would be subject to being placed in removal proceedings before an Immigration Judge and ordered removed from the U.S. The disposition would have this result because (1) it constitutes a conviction for a crime involving moral turpitude, and client has a previous conviction for a crime involving moral turpitude, see INA 237(a)(2)(A)(ii) and (2) because it is an aggravated felony, see INA 101(a)(43)(G), 237(a)(2)(A)(iii).

Immigration Detention: Because of this disposition, Ms. Vergara will be subject to mandatory detention in immigration custody, meaning she will be ineligible to ask the Immigration Judge to set a bond. See INA 236(c)(1)(B). She is likely to be detained in immigration detention for the duration of her immigration case, which can take months to years depending on various factors.

Relief from Removal: Despite being removable, the client could be eligible for certain forms of relief from removal in immigration court, but the charge/plea offer would make her ineligible for some of those options. This list is not exhaustive. We have identified the following impacts the disposition could have on the client’s eligibility for relief from removal:

Client is a Legal Permanent Resident who appears likely to meet the requirements for qualifying for cancellation of removal under INA 240. However, because this offense is an aggravated felony, it would make client ineligible for this form of relief.

Eligibility for affirmative or other immigration benefits: Regardless of whether this offense makes the client removable, it could affect her eligibility for other immigration benefits, including before USCIS (rather than the immigration court). We have identified the following impacts the disposition could have on the client’s eligibility for other immigration benefits: Because this disposition is an aggravated felony, the client will be permanently ineligible to naturalize (become a U.S. citizen) because it creates a permanent bar to establishing good moral character which is a requirement for naturalization. See INA 101(f)(8).

Recommendation: A safer alternative plea/disposition we would recommend is a sentence of less than 1 year, whether suspended or not. This plea/disposition would not constitute an aggravated felony. This alternative would be safer than the current plea/offense as charged because it would:

  • preserve the client’s eligibility for LPR cancellation, a form of relief from removal
  • avoid a permanent bar to naturalization.

To avoid removability and mandatory immigration detention entirely, the offense would need to not constitute a conviction for a crime involving moral turpitude, which could be achieved by: a deferred prosecution, a pre-trial diversion as defined in this county; a plea to a different, non-CIMT offense.

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