What type of lawyer do we need?
February 24, 2012 12:04 PM Subscribe
My husband and I would like to be able to travel, but he has a felony conviction that makes things a bit complicated, and we're having trouble sorting out what options we have, what needs to be done, and in what order of operations. I would like to buy an hour or two of a lawyer's time, but I first need to know what kind of lawyer we need.
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (13 answers total)
Five years ago (before we met) he stole a pack of cigarettes in a convenience store at gunpoint in a desperate attempt to commit suicide by cop. This was the bottom he hit after years of addiction and alcoholism. He was allowed to enter treatment in lieu of jail time and has been clean now for close to five years; he made restitution to the victim, he successfully completed parole, and his probation ends in March. He is now an employer and a responsible member in society. Addiction is a terrible thing, but he has come out the other side and sober he doesn't even bear a passing resemblance to the person he was when he was sick. His parole and probation officers have offered to testify to this effect on his behalf.
Part of the wreckage of his past, though, is this conviction for armed robbery.
We are in Canada. I have close family in the States. We would like to be able to visit them but the US has especially strong restrictions for those with felony convictions. The US requires an entry waiver and we're not clear whether he has to get a pardon first-- even though the US doesn't recognize Canadian pardons, would we need it to get the waiver? The pardon situation is pretty clear-- five years after his probation ends he can apply, and then it's two years after that for the pardon to go through. That's seven years from now. But we can't figure out if he needs a pardon to get the entry waiver. There are many companies that will complete the pardon process for a large fee but we can navigate that on our own, that's not the problem. It's the order of operations (what can we do before the pardon? What can't we do?) that we're struggling to find clear information on.
If he can't go into the States, we'll deal with that. But we would like to be able to leave Canada on occasion, and we are having difficulty sorting out whether he can apply for a passport renewal and then be able to travel (as long as there are no stopovers in the States) to countries where convictions aren't relevant (and we have made phone calls to various countries in the Caribbean, for example, and confirmed that certain ones don't take convictions into account upon entry). What we can't be certain about, though, is if he is issued a passport, will he get stopped by Canadian authorities upon departure or return? Another issue is that there may be long-term ramifications of being issued a passport before the pardon, and what information follows that passport and for how long.
We're both pretty good at Internet but there's not a great deal of concise legal information out there on the topic. So-- what is the name for the kind of lawyer we need to seek out for a consultation?