This question should not be overlooked when you are interviewing a new client. You should never assume that your client is a Canadian citizen.
If your client is not a Canadian citizen, you must be alert to any potential collateral immigration consequences of the criminal proceeding.
A client’s ability to remain in Canada may be in jeopardy depending upon the outcome of the criminal proceeding.
In other cases the criminal proceeding may delay your client’s application for citizenship or jeopardize the client's ability to act as a sponsor for a family member.
Your client may also have a positive obligation to notify immigration authorities that he or she has been charged with a criminal offence depending upon the nature of his or her pending immigration or citizenship application.
Cases to consider:
- R. v. Pham, 2013 SCC 15 at para. 14: “…a sentencing judge may exercise his or her discretion to take collateral immigration consequences into account, provided that the sentence that is ultimately imposed is proportionate to the gravity of the offence and the degree of responsibility of the offender.”
- R. v. Meehan, 2013 ONSC 1782 – Guilty plea vacated on appeal and a new trial ordered where the accused’s decision to enter a plea of guilty was partly based upon erroneous legal advice pertaining to the immigration consequences of a conviction.