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The Right Criminal Defense Could Change a Life

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Many individuals may find themselves in legal predicaments that result in their facing criminal charges. The idea of facing legal proceedings can prove overwhelming and confusing, and individuals may have no idea where to start when it comes to creating a meaningful criminal defense. However, individuals who have been charged with DUI may have many defense options.

No other choice

Though an individual does have defense options, they may have had no other choice than to drink and drive. If a person has been stopped by police and accused of drunk driving, he or she may be able to argue that he or she was acting out of necessity. If the individual was in a compromising situation that put that person at risk of harm, driving away even after consuming alcohol may have been the only feasible option.

Involuntary intoxication

There are also some cases in which an individual may have unwittingly become intoxicated. If alcohol was added to a drink at a party, an individual may not have been aware of the alcohol and consumed the beverage. He or she may then have gotten behind the wheel without fully knowing that they had become intoxicated. 

Improperly administered tests

In many instances of DUI stops, the officer or officers involved will administer field sobriety tests and/or blood-alcohol tests. If these tests were administered incorrectly or the results were not properly handled, an accused individual may have reason to argue that the evidence is inadmissible. 

Legal help

When going through such a trying time, individuals may believe that they have no options. However, there are many strategies for creating an effective criminal defense that could potentially help individuals avoid a conviction. If interested, individuals who have been accused of DUI may wish to speak with experienced attorneys at McLean Law Firm.



Family Based Immigration - Family Unification Program

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Need more information regarding family based immigration?  The McLean Law office can help you understand your options regarding many of immigration and related topics, such as the Family Unification Program.  The Family Unification Program's goal is to provide the child welfare system with the necessary resources to prevent family separation due to homelessness and prevent homelessness among aging-out youth. Aging-out-youth include those that are age 16 and in foster care or those who are between the ages of 18 - 21 and are homeless or are at high risk of becoming homeless.

If you or a family member, or you have a friend that meets this criteria, s/he is protected by many laws and rights under the Family Unification Program.  One specific area of the Family Unification Program is HUD, or the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, which can assist with finding emergency housing for anyone that meets the criteria set forth in the Family Unification Program. The lawyers at McLean Law are ready to you in understanding your rights and ensure you are not discriminated against, or overlooked if you are entitled to assistance through this program.  If you have been denied assistance under the Family Unification Program and, as the result, have been separated from your family, or you have become homeless or are at high risk of becoming homeless, you need a lawyer that will fight to help you keep your family together, or get your family back together. 

Contact us immediately to set up an appointment for a consultation.  You have rights under the Family Unification Program, so don't let the system deny you those rights.  



Family Based Immigration - V Visa

Thursday, January 19, 2017

What is Family Based Immigration - V Visa?

According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) a V Visa is a "nonimmigrant visa created to allow families to stay together while waiting for the processing of immigrant visas". The V Visa is part of the USCIS's Family Based Immigration assistance program.  A V Visa allows certain beneficiaries of immigration visa petitions to enter the United States, or change the status of a V Visa if already in the United States) to join the sponsor of their pending immigrant visa while they wait for a priority date to become current.  This enables family unity while the petitions for visas are pending.

The V Visa allows permanent residents of the United States to unite with their family, including spouses and children, while the immigration process takes its course. The V Visa was created by the Legal Immigration Family Equity Act of 2000. Most immigration petitions and/or applications and the law surrounding these type of petitions and/or applications is very complex.  You should seek legal advise before applying for the V Visa.

What is the Application Criteria?

If you are a permanent resident of the United States or a green card holder or, your spouse, child (unmarried and under 21), or the child of your spouse (your step-child) and you filed the Petition for Alien Relative for the family member on or before December 21, 2000, then you are may be eligible to apply for a V Visa.  Additionally, if you are outside of the United States and have been waiting at least three years since you filed the Petition for Alien Relative and, the immigrant visa was not created on an approved Petition for Alien Relative form, or the application to adjust status is pending, or the Petition for an Immigrant Visa is pending, you may be eligible to apply for a V Visa.

Seek legal assistance before attempting to apply for a V Visa.

Immigration laws are very complex and difficult to understand by most.  If you are finding it difficult to understand the laws and application process involving the V Visa, or actually filing for a V Visa, contact us for legal assistance by calling one of the following numbers:

           Phoenix: (602) 216-8000       Los Angeles:  (213) 351-6500

The attorneys at McLean Law Firm are very knowledgeable in immigration law and can not only help keep your family together, or bring your family together, but also offer legal services in many other areas involving immigration. Visit the McLean Law Firm website for more information regarding areas of defense provided by the McLean Law Firm.



Family Unification Program: Sponsor Immediate Relatives for Their Green Card

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Most United States citizens know that it's possible to sponsor a spouse or minor child through the American family based immigration policies. However, did you know it's also possible to sponsor additional family members? Here's a brief guide to whether your loved one qualifies for permanent residency through your status.

As a US Citizen, you can sponsor the following family members: a spouse, minor children, adult children, siblings, parents, and your fiancé or fiancée residing in another country. In this post, we'll focus on sponsoring your parents, adult or married children, and siblings.

To sponsor your parent or adult child or sibling, you and your sponsored family member all need to be at least 21 years old. For them to receive their green card, you must be willing to act at their sponsor and meet income requirements that show you can support them when they arrive in the US and seek out work. If you don't earn enough income, you may be able to find another person to meet the financial portion of the sponsorship requirement.

To get started with sponsorship, the first step is to fill out an I-130 form, Petition for Alien Relative, to prove you're related to your relative. Depending on the relationship, this means you'll need to provide documentation such as birth and marriage certificates.

After the form is accepted, there is a waiting period that varies based on your family relationship and number of people waiting for a family based green card. Parents typically get admitted immediately, however siblings and adult children may have to wait for acceptance depending on visa quotas.  Once your sibling or adult child gets accepted, the sibling or child can file for additional green cards for immediate family (for example, your sibling's spouse and children).

We specialize in keeping families together through immigration and are experts in immigration law. Contact us for a consultation regarding your specific family immigration situation.



The Bright Side of the DAPA/DACA Ruling

Thursday, January 05, 2017

President Obama's DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents) and DACA(Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) programs face a doubtful future. The Fifth Circuit Court blocked expansion of these programs, and the Supreme Court deadlocked 4-4, letting the decision stand. President-elect Trump opposes these programs and will likely terminate them.

In the short run, this is bad news for immigrants whom these programs protected. However, the reasoning behind the ruling will also protect immigrants from an Executive Branch that swings too far against them.

A state of uncertainty

Nothing has been decided on the legality of DAPA and DACA. The ruling in United States v. Texas only established that states had sufficient standing to challenge the programs and issued an injunction pending further action.

Federal law enforcement belongs to the Executive Branch, and it has considerable leeway to exercise benign neglect. However, this discretion isn't unlimited. The president is constitutionally bound to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed." Obama pushed the limits of his executive authority with DACA and DAPA, and the courts still have to determine whether he pushed it too far.

Limits on Obama are limits on Trump

While the uncertain status of these programs means an uncertain future for the people it protects, the legal reasoning behind the ruling could protect immigrants in the future. Trump, like Obama, will face limits on how much he can bend immigration law. The Fourteenth Amendment guarantees due process of law to all persons, not just citizens, and executive orders which try to bypass it will be subject to legal challenges and injunctions.

Executive orders that discriminate among immigrants based on their religion, such as a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States," would be subject to a constitutional challenge based on the First Amendment and other provisions. Massive deportation programs could face due-process challenges. However they worked out, they would certainly slow down any attempts to make drastic policy changes through executive orders.

Trump can and likely will dismantle DACA and DAPA. However, it should be a significant consolation to immigrants that it's possible to challenge a president's actions in court. The courts provide a certain amount of stability, whatever course elected officials pursue.

The McLean Law Firm specializes in immigration law. If you are looking for an immigration attorney, please contact us.



Asylum and Refugee Law and Related Topics

Thursday, December 29, 2016

When we think of asylum and refugee law and related topics we automatically think of laws that protect against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, for the most part. There are laws that protect individuals housed in an asylum or held as a refugee.  These laws are to be adhered to throughout the United Nations.  Inappropriate treatment is clearly defined in a document by the United Nations Human Rights Office of the Higher Commissioner entitled "Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel or Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment".  This document was drafted, "adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution 39/46 of 10 December 1984 entry into force 26 June 1987, in accordance with article 27(1)". 

The aforementioned document contains three Parts consisting of a total of thirty-three Articles created as the "Convention" and defining what is and is not appropriate treatment of an individual.  This document is very detailed and explains not only what is and is not appropriate treatment, but also how authorities should handle a case where they believe inappropriate treatment is being allowed, or if transfer to another nation or state could result in inappropriate treatment. 

Legal documents can be very confusing to the average person that has little to no training in the legal field.  That is why it is so important that you consult with an attorney if you believe any of your rights, or your family's rights, have been violated or may be violated if a transfer of the individual is allowed.  No one in an asylum or labeled as a refugee should be subjected to torture or other cruel or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishments regardless of the allegation or charge against the individual.  The "Convention" protects these individuals from being mistreated. 

If you or a family member believe these rights have been violated, or might be violated if a transfer is allowed, contact us immediately to discuss the situation. 



USCIS Petition Waiver for Abuse Victims

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Immigration petition for battered spouse waiver as provided under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), assists a woman applying for petition waiver status with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in a life threatening circumstance. 

The Act supports a woman's claim of abuse, and sustains her right to protection in pursuance of residency status without relying on a husband's consent. The VAWA allows for Form I-571 consideration of a foreign national by the USCIS waiver available to conditional residents who have a record of battery or abuse by a U.S. citizen spouse. Applicants without a green card may not file Form I-751 under any circumstance.

Survivors of abuse that have been subject to harm by a U.S. citizen, may seek exemption to the statutory condition of marriage in a USCIS immigration self-petition. A foreign national not holding a green card, who can evidence spousal abuse, is eligible for filing a self-petition for waiver without spousal consent. Foreign-born children who have been abused by a U.S. citizen/parent are not eligible for petition waiver without conditional residency. 

Legal Services for Abuse Victims

Access to legal counsel is often deciding factor when a foreign national seeks immigration waiver protection in a divorce case. While most domestic abuse victims can seek remedy to their circumstance with a protective order, cases involving USCIS petition for residency can leave a petitioner at risk of deportation. If you are a foreign national that has sustained abuse, protect your immigration status, contact the McLean Law Firm.  



How the New Trump Administration Might Change Asylum and Refugee Law

Friday, December 16, 2016

Fearmongers and critics of President-Elect Trump's incoming administration are painting pictures of mass deportations and absolute bans on immigration. Whether any of these fears come to pass remains to be seen, but on a smaller level, asylum seekers and immigrants seeking refugee status are likely to see real changes in the law.

Blanket Bans on Muslim Immigrants

Consulates already have wide discretion to deny visas for any reason or for no reason at all. The September 11 terrorist attacks already caused the imposition of special registration on certain Muslim immigrants. The new administration might enhance these restrictions to further limit the opportunity for Muslim peoples to seek to immigrate to the United States.

Refugees

In fiscal year 2016, almost half of the persons who received refugee status in the U.S. were Muslims. This reflected a change from prior years in which a majority of refugees were persecuted Christians. The Syrian refugee crisis is the most likely cause of this change. The Trump administration is expected to be less friendly to Muslim refugees.

Refugees and Persons with Asylum Status Already in the U.S.

Notwithstanding promises and pledges made during the election cycle, it is very unlikely that persons with legal residency status in the U.S., including Muslim refugees and asylum-seekers, will be deported. Deportation of legal residents will require changes in the law that Congress would have to approve. The checks and balances inherent in the United States system of government will make it very difficult, if not impossible, for the new administration to revoke a legal resident's status.

Pending Asylum Cases

The U.S. Constitution's due process considerations will protect persons whose asylum petitions are already pending. Their cases may take longer to adjudicate, which will increase stress levels and uncertainties, but the substance of those cases will generally not be affected.

Physical Barriers and Preclusion of Specific Immigrant Groups 

Whether the new administration's pledge to build a wall along the country's southern border was just a populist campaign pledge or a genuine statement of intention remains to be seen. The new president's advisers will need to weigh the benefits of a physical barrier against the real policy implications of that barrier, which may include precipitating a greater refugee crisis. The physical and financial challenges of erecting a wall suggest that no barriers will be built. The new administration is a wholly unknown quantity, however, and nothing can be assumed with any level of certainty.

The attorneys at the McLean Law Firm in Phoenix and Los Angeles are dedicated to helping persecuted immigrants to applying for and receiving legitimate refugee or asylum status to protect themselves and their families from undue persecution in foreign countries. Please contact us for more information on how we can help you with your refugee or asylum petition. 



Rights and Needs of Victims of Abuse, Crimes or Trafficking & Related Topics

Friday, December 09, 2016

When it comes to managing Victims of Abuse, Crimes, or Trafficking and related topics, there is a lot to keep in mind and a lot to take into consideration.  As a victim of abuse, crime, or trafficking, you might be entitled to victim advocacy. Advocates, both professional and volunteer, work to affirm the victim's rights and to provide information and services to victims of crime. These advocates are organized locally and are the starting point for a victim when seeking emotional help and for seeking prosecution of the offender, if known, in the right jurisdiction. 

Most states have expressed some crime victims’ rights in their constitutions or state laws. Protection and enforcement of crime victims’ rights at state and federal levels is imperative.  Commonly affirmed victims’ rights include:

  • The right to protection from intimidation and/or harm.
  • The right to be educated regarding the process of the criminal justice system.
  • The right to preservation of property and employment.
  • The right to due process in criminal court proceedings.
  • The right to be treated with dignity and compassion.
  • The right to counsel.

The needs of each crime victim can vary based upon the nature and/or the extent of the crime, as well as the emotional well-being of the individual at the time of the crime. Crime Victim Specializations address differing needs and perspectives of the victims.  All victims experience loss -- emotional and/or physical.  No one has the right to judge the impact or affect of any given loss in anyone's life.

Wherever you may be in the process, from not being able to report the crime, to a criminal conviction or the sentencing phase, there are important things you need to know:

  • Emotional trauma is a common element for nearly EVERY victim. Some victims never get over certain traumas, but luckily there are ways they can learn to cope.
  • The United States' system of justice is not a speedy process.  The process includes an investigation, to prosecution, to incarceration of a perpetrator. The justice system is slow at nearly every level. The court systems are backed up with cases so finding a period of time in a Judge's schedule for a trial requires looking way into the future at times. 
  • It is typical for a victim to experience secondary trauma. Secondary trauma is emotional pain caused by the people and processes from whom the victim seeks help. This can happen because of the system’s slowness, lack of knowledge of the criminal justice system, etc.
  • As a victim, you will notice that some people around you will not understand your struggles and frustrations. These people can include family and close friends.  It is helpful for victims to find others who have dealt with or are dealing with the same or similar traumas for support and understanding. This is why there are Crime Victim Specializations.

To talk more about this, or anything else, please contact us. Thanks.



Adopting A Foreign-Born Child? You Will Need A Form For That

Friday, December 02, 2016

Many couples that pine for a child of their own find their babies in foreign countries. There is no limit on where the child of your heart may be found, and the United States government wants to help you take him or her home. You just need to fill out a few forms. There are three ways to adopt intercountry, Hague, Orphan or through an Immediate Relative Petition. Which forms you fill out depends on the circumstances of the adoption. Fortunately, they are easy to find on the USCIS website.

  So, which forms do you need to fill out when you start the adoption proceedings? Here are a few examples.

- I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition. This is the form that a citizen submits so that the USCIS can adjudicate applications regarding the citizen's eligibility and suitability for adopting. The Supplement 1 section is important to fill out, too. This is the list of adult members of your household. The filing fee for this form is $720, and it requires fingerprinting.

-I-800A, the Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country. If your future child resides in a Hague Adoption Convention country, this is the form that adjudicates the eligibility and suitability. This form is also $720, not including fingerprinting fees for everyone over 18 that will be living with the child.

-I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative. This form is for finalizing an immigration process, after your I-800A is approved. This form is free.

-I-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship. This form gets your new family member proof that he or she is a citizen. There is no charge for this.

  You have to file these forms with the USCIS National Benefits Center. Send it to the Dallas Lockbox Facility at P.O Box 660088, Dallas Texas. 

  You should know that adoption agencies can't represent you in this process, and a lawyer specializing in immigration law is highly advisable, since there are many steps involved. You want to get your baby home to you, so when you need help with these forms, contact us.