Joseph Hearings in DC Mandatory Detention Cases

A Joseph Hearing works by an immigration attorney doing a comprehensive review of case law in the jurisdiction that an individual is being held in to determine if there is an argument that the criminal offense should not have triggered mandatory detention. During the hearing, the defense attorney will present an argument, usually through a brief filed before the hearing date, and then during an oral argument in front of the immigration court. An attorney will present arguments to prove that the criminal offense you’ve been convicted of or charged with does not qualify as an offense that will subject you to a mandatory detention.

In some cases, the prosecutor might agree, but that’s very rare. Generally, the Department of Homeland Security prosecutor will make the argument that it does actually qualify. The judge will have to make a decision about who’s right.

Obtaining An Attorney

Everyone has the right to a lawyer, but a lawyer will not be appointed to you if you can not afford one. This is the same as every other type of hearing in immigration court. Unless you can get pro bono counsel, then you will have to pay for a lawyer on your own.

It’s similar to a criminal proceeding where there are three parties involved. It will be the respondent, meaning the immigrant or intended immigrant and their attorney, and a prosecutor, who in immigration court is referred to as the DHS attorney or the attorney for the Office of Chief Counsel for the Department of Homeland Security. The judge will be the neutral party that is going to make the decision on the case.

Evidence and Standards in Joseph Hearings

In most cases, it’s a balancing test. The judge will weigh the danger you present to the community and the risk that you will not appear at your next immigration court hearing if you are released, against the positive factors in your case, like family ties or things you have done to demonstrate your good character in the community.

Also, employment history and past criminal and immigration history is important. You can submit an extensive amount of documentation that shows that you are a positive member of the community, that you’re relied upon by your family, or that you’re a responsible worker and gainfully employed. All these types of things can help in persuading the judge to grant a bond and to grant that bond at a reasonable amount.

DC Mandatory Detention Lawyer