Drug offenses are the most common cases we see resulting in deportation. It is not a surprise that the Supreme Court in Padilla stated that criminal defense attorneys have a duty to advise their clients of the immigration consequences in their case. Both permanent residents and illegal immigrants potentially face immigration consequences in drug cases. The goals of these two groups on individuals may be different. Permanent residents are most interested in avoiding deportation. Illegal immigrants shall avoid inadmissibility. The following is an example of how the deportation scheme works.
An individual can be deported for a conviction under controlled substance (21 USC sec. 802) offence. There is an exception for a one time simple personal possession of 30g or less of marijuana. If an individual is convicted for a federally covered drug, then he is deportable, even in a simple possession case. If it is not a federally controlled substance, then it will not be considered a deportable offense. Your attorney needs to compare the state charges to those listed in federal guidelines. A state might criminalize a drug that the federal government does not. A drug paraphernalia conviction is a controlled substance offense leading to a deportation (except as it relates to a 30g marijuana exception). There are immigration consequences in all types of cases including non-drug offenses. The following chart by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) provides the consequences for the most common California offenses.