Ben Hall, Esq.
Inspired by the great diversity within my family, I attended law school with the intent of becoming an immigration lawyer. Through my family, I have witnessed firsthand how difficult it is for people to navigate through the complex immigration system. The more I learned about the system, the more I wanted to assist those going through it. While learning about immigration, I discovered that traversing the immigration system is particularly complex for those immigrants with criminal issues.
The crossroads between immigration and criminal law can be one of the important junctures in a person’s life. Handling an immigrant’s criminal case incorrectly can and will lead to families being split up forever. Unfortunately, there are few attorneys equipped to competently contend with both issues.
I started practicing immigration law prior to criminal law. I have always thoroughly enjoyed working as an immigration lawyer. Each case presents an opportunity to keep a family united or to save someone from eminent harm in their home country. Early on, I encountered the severe repercussions that criminal convictions have on non-citizens. Most immigration I worked with offered little guidance on how to navigate such complex criminal actions. Thus, I endeavored to practice criminal law as well.
I joined the Contra Costa County Bar Association’s Criminal Conflict Program to learn criminal law from a dedicated group of criminal defense attorneys. As it turned out, many of my clients were immigrants. To best protect my immigrant clients, I studied the consequences of specific convictions and quickly found that a conviction under certain statutes can be optimal for a U.S. citizen but result in inadmissibility and removal of an alien. For the cases where a dismissal was unlikely, I used this technical knowledge to fashion a plea agreement that would minimize the potential immigration consequences to my client.
While I did succeed in learning the immigration consequences of specific convictions, I still could not assist those immigrants who already had adverse criminal convictions. Throughout my career, I encountered countless many immigrants with such convictions who are now leading productive lives and who are valued members of their community. The adverse conviction record, which is often the result of a criminal defense attorney unwittingly advising their immigrant client to take a “good” plea deal, creates nearly insurmountable immigration problems. I discovered that the only remedy available to such individuals is post-conviction relief, an extraordinarily difficult form of relief to obtain.
Post-conviction relief is one of the most powerful tools available for immigrants with criminal convictions. In fact, I have heard many clients describe it as miraculous. After post-conviction relief, immigrants who thought they would be removed are now able to either maintain their lawful permanent resident status, adjust status, or naturalize. Witnessing people successfully go through this process is one of the most satisfying aspects of my career.
I obtained my Juris Doctor from Golden Gate University School of Law with a Juris Doctor, where I also obtained a specialization in international law, with distinction. Prior to attending law school, I graduated with High Honors from UC Santa Barbara with a BA in Sociology.
I hope for the opportunity to successfully guide you through the immigration and criminal system.