Seventh Circuit Declines to Reverse Deportation Proceedings for Jamaican Where Predicated on Misdemeanor Domestic Battery Conviction

Although this is an appeal of an immigration decision rather than a criminal case, this Seventh Circuit case illustrates the dangers in the plea of guilty by a non-citizen to a misdemeanor such as domestic battery.

The petitioner, a Jamaican national, plead guilty to misdemeanor domestic battery in Illinois. This was used as a basis by federal immigration officials to detain him and begin deportation proceedings. The immigration judge decided that he was ineligible for withholding of removal because the elements and underlying facts of his domestic-battery offense rendered it “particularly serious,” barring him from seeking that relief.

The Seventh Circuit affirmed this decision on jurisdictional grounds notwithstanding evidence that the petitioner would be tortured upon his return to Jamaica based on his bisexuality and language in the opinion below that the Petitioner might not be tortured because he could hide his bisexuality.

Anyone who is not a citizen must take great care before entering a guilty plea to any criminal case as there may be drastic consequences that await separate and apart from any direct punishment for the crime itself.

The case is Bernard v. Sessions, 17-2290.

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