Under California law, defendants must be informed of a possible deportation before entering a guilty or not guilty plea. A new amendment to this law will also require the court to advise the defendant that if they return to the United States illegally, there could be additional federal charges. As of January 1, 2011 all California courts must inform a defendant that illegally returning to the United States after a deportation will result in a federal offense.
A first offense for illegally entering the United States is a federal misdemeanor, which could result in up to six months in jail. These charges are often reduced or dismissed if the defendant voluntarily leaves the country. An individual who chooses to re-enter the country illegally after being deported faces far more serious penalties. The penalties for illegal re-entry after deportation could be as much as 20 years in prison if the accused has a criminal history.
Southern California has a long history of unnecessary deportation and unjust penalties. It is important to fight all criminal charges with an experienced criminal defense attorney. A knowledgeable lawyer will make sure that the defendant understands the ramification of the charges made against them and will advise them on the best course of action. In some cases, a skilled attorney can even have the charges reduced or dismissed.