Vista Legal Services

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We are a Law Office

At Vista Legal Services we handle every kind of immigration service, including:

  • Family Immigration
  • Citizenship
  • Deportation
  • Waivers
  • U-Visas
  • Visitor Visas
  • Criminal Defense

Serving Los Angeles and Orange Counties and the Inland Empire.

Criminal Defense

By Attorney Gerald Gornik

Often times a person’s criminal record will determine whether they can become legal residents, or whether they will be deported from the U.S. if they are already residents. Non–citizens that are accused of crimes face a special set of problems. Avoiding jail time is important to everyone, but it is even more important for a non–citizen to avoid jail time. That is because the government has immigration police (ICE) stationed at county jails to check for non–citizens. A non–citizen that goes to county jail runs the risk of having an order of detention (“hold”) placed on him by ICE and being turned over to the immigration court for deportation proceedings. A non–citizen who is arrested and posts bail on a criminal case quickly can often be released before ICE gets a chance to place the immigration “hold.”

Settling a criminal case for a non–citizen should be done with an eye towards minimizing the immigration consequences. A criminal lawyer representing a non–citizen should be well versed in the immigration consequences of a criminal case, which can very often be complex.

For example, if a person is undocumented, a conviction for unlawfully possessing a firearm may not affect his immigration future at all. But that same conviction may get him deported if he already has a green card.

In my years as an attorney, I have handled thousands of criminal cases for adults and juveniles, including hundreds of trials and three death penalty cases: People v. Federico DeLaCruz (1990), People v. Vincent Hubbard (1992), and People v. Ignacio Chavez (2009). I have a level of experience in criminal court that is difficult to find among seasoned immigration attorneys.

All too often people have come to my office asking if we can help them with their immigration case, and we can see that their problems are based on a plea bargain that they shouldn’t have accepted, and wouldn’t have if they had known of the immigration consequences.

Representing a non–citizen in criminal court is extremely complex and takes years to master. The best way to avoid a situation where a non–citizen’s immigration future is compromised forever is to hire an experienced lawyer who knows both criminal and immigration law.  For more information about criminal defense, please visit my criminal defense website at