Immigrants to the United States are considered a uniquely vulnerable population who are prone to being taken advantage of by the unscrupulous. To help protect the rights of immigrants to access the legal process of becoming resident aliens, citizens, or otherwise affect their legal status in the United States, the state of New Jersey restricts the practice of immigration law to those licensed as attorneys or counselors at law. There are several penalties possible for violating N.J.S.A. 2C:21-31, Unauthorized Practice of Immigration Law.
At the fourth degree level, the statute specifies that a person who engages in immigration law without being a licensed attorney or counselor in NJ at law is in violation. Taking possession of and retaining another person’s immigration-related documents for an unreasonable period of time after they have requested those documents be returned is also a fourth degree matter. Penalties at this level include up to 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Holding yourself out to the public as a licensed immigration counselor when you are not, or advertising in any language that you are a licensed attorney when you are not, is a crime of the third degree. Conviction can result in a three to five year prison sentence, and a fine of $15,000. It’s vital that you work with an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect yourself from allegations this serious. Matthew Reisig defends professionals in New Jersey when they face allegations of misconduct. Call 732-625-9661 today and talk to an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney for free.