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Supreme Court rules immigrants have right to bail hearings

When an undocumented immigrant is charged with a felony in Connecticut, courts cannot use the individual's immigration status as the sole reason to deny bail. On June 1, the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to reconsider a decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit that had held that denying bail to undocumented immigrants who had been charged with certain felonies was unconstitutional. The appeals court ruling had dealt with a constitutional amendment in Arizona that was passed in 2006.

Although the majority of the Supreme Court voted not to reconsider the case, Justices Alito, Thomas and Scalia said that they would have heard it. When it was passed in 2006, the initiative to deny bail to all undocumented immigrants was approved by 78 percent of Arizona voters. However, the appellate court found that the initiative was unconstitutional because each defendant's case was not being considered on an individual basis.

Before Arizona passed the 2006 initiative, the Supreme Court had ruled that undocumented immigrants could be jailed before deportation proceedings because they pose a flight risk. Many argued that the state's attempt to address flight risk by denying bail to certain defendants did not allow them to enjoy the right to be presumed innocent until they were proven guilty.

When undocumented immigrants are charged with a felony, they face the risk of being convicted and deported from the country. Someone in this situation may want to seek help disputing their charges from a lawyer who is familiar with the immigration issues that are involved. A lawyer may also be able to help someone who is facing deportation as a result of past criminal convictions.

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