Supreme Court: Paraphernalia Conviction Does Not Trigger Deportation

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On June 1, 2015, the United States Supreme Court ruled that a conviction for the possession of drug paraphernalia does not trigger removal (deportation) under §1227(a)(2)(B)(i).

§1227(a)(2)(B)(i) reads: “Any alien who at any time after admission has been convicted of a violation of (or a conspiracy or attempt to violate) any law or regulation of a State, the United States, or a foreign country relating to a controlled substance (as defined in section 802 of title 21), other than a single offense involving possession for one’s own use of 30 grams or less of marijuana, is deportable.”

Defendant Mellouli pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor paraphernalia offense in Kansas for possessing four unidentified pills in a sock. Afterwards, an Immigration Judge ordered that Mr. Mellouli be deported.

However, the Supreme Court reasoned that the state conviction did not fall within a category that would make Mr. Mellouli deportable under federal law. Therefore, deportation should not be triggered in this situation.

It is important to note than a conviction for even a minor offense can cause problems for non-U.S. citizens.

If you are accused of a crime or disorderly persons offense in New Jersey, it is important to talk to an attorney who is familiar with the interplay between New Jersey law and federal law.