Criminal to Immigration Custody: After an arrest has been made and it has been determined that the defendant does not have legal status, or in some cases, after a legal permanent resident has been referred to ICE because they have committed a certain type of crime that triggers their immigration status, ICE will take custody of the case and the defendant will be transferred to an immigration detention center. There are many of these around the country, the main two that we deal with are located in Florence and Eloy Arizona.
Central Processing: Now before a defendant is transferred to a detention center, they are usually processed by ICE at a central location where it is determined what type of charges are going to be handed down and what type of case it is going to be. Often a bond is set at this time- sometimes if the crime is a minor one, or if the ICE agent decides based on his or her discretion, a person can leave “On Recognizance” meaning without a bond, so long as they check in periodically and promise to show up at future court dates. If one scheduled sign in, or a court date is missed, however, it could result in immediate detention, or losing the right to defend your case and instead being deported for a period of 5, 10, 20 years or even up to life!
Bond Redetermination: Often, a bond is set at initial processing and before transfer to an immigration detention center, but the dollar amount is unreasonably high. We get clients that come in with bonds at 10 or 20 thousand dollars sometimes, with only one DUI on their records. If the bond cannot be paid right away, the defendant is then transferred to a detention center, and given the right to a “BOND REDETERMINATION HEARING.” This is a distinct process from the actual immigration case- solely for the purpose of determining if the defendant is eligible to be released from detention and fight their case outside with their family instead of being locked up the whole time.
What we do at our firm is after a client has been detained and their family has signed up for services, we enter as attorney of record, letting the court know that we want a bond redetermination hearing, and submit a bond packet with all the relevant information necessary to assist the judge in determining whether, and at what amount, to set a bond. Things like birth certificates for USC/LPR parents, spouse, or children, medical records, utility bills, certificates or report cards, photos of friends and family, and letters of recommendation, are often helpful in getting an unreasonably high bond lowered to something a person can actually pay.
Aside from the bond packet, an immigration judge will also look at the reason the person has been detained, their criminal record, whether they have been a person of good moral character while in the US, their work history, whether they have paid taxes, and how strong or weak their case is. If the judge decides a person is a danger to the community or a flight risk (meaning they wont likely show up at the next court date if released) then no bond might be set, or it might remain at the previously set number.
If the bond is reduced, the respondent’s family then has to come up with the money in the form of a cashier’s check or money order, and pay to secure their release. The money is not gone, rather, it is used to insure that the respondent presents at all future court dates, and is returned at the end of proceedings, regardless of whether they win or lose the case. The money is returned to the person who pays the bond, not the person whose name is on the case. If the respondent does not leave, or fails to check in with ICE before leaving, the money could be forfeited. Furthermore, just paying the bond does not mean you are free for the rest of the case- if a respondent gets in trouble while fighting their immigration case, and faces jail time, the immigration bond is forfeited and a new bond must be posted.
Obviously, if detained, the goal is to get out of custody and fight the case as a free person, surrounded by family and loved ones. Our goal at Alcock & Associates is to secure the lowest bond possible, given the circumstances, for our clients, and we fight hard in court to do so.
For more information on Bond Redetermination Hearings or other aspects of the immigration process, please check out our website- www.188.8.131.52/~alcocklaw. Thanks!
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Alcock & Associates P.C.
2 North Central Avenue, 26th Floor
Phoenix AZ 85004