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TRP Canada

Canada immigration lawyer focused on helping Americans apply for a Temporary Resident Permit so they can travel to Canada with a criminal record. We offer free comprehensive consultations (unlike many businesses who demand a retainer before assessing your options).

Can You Go to Canada While in a DUI Deferred Prosecution Program?

Certain types of DUI offenses and offenders may qualify for state-specific programs that result in a dismissal of the case against the defendant once specified conditions are completed. These types of programs aim to allow the defendant time to rehabilitate themselves and demonstrate that they are capable of behaving responsibly, and usually include some form of counseling or probation. A deferred adjudication program is one such arrangement in which the defendant must first plead guilty to the charge but ultimately can avoid a formal conviction for DUI. An American participating in a deferred adjudication program can be denied entry to Canada due to criminality. Similar to deferred prosecution programs, pretrial diversion programs can also enable an individual with a first offense DUI to avoid a criminal record. A pretrial diversion program does not require the defendant to plead guilty or "no contest" since the case does not actually go to trial unless the accused fails to meet the program's conditions. Even without a guilty plea, however, any DUI deferral or other similar program such as pretrial intervention (PTI), accelerated pretrial rehabilitation, or accelerated rehabilitative disposition, can render an American criminally inadmissible to Canada. There is no presumption of innocence when it comes to Canadian immigration, which means that any foreign national who has been arrested for DWI risks a Canadian border denial until they have documented proof of a favorable outcome.

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Between the time the arrest occurred and the deferred judgment program commences, the individual may be inadmissible to Canada without a valid Temporary Resident Permit. While the person is participating in a deferral program, he or she may still be inadmissible to Canada since a "no conviction" result cannot yet be demonstrated. The only way to overcome criminal inadmissibility to Canada is by being issued a Temporary Resident Permit or through a process known as Criminal Rehabilitation. Once an individual has successfully completed the DUI deferred prosecution program and has documents to prove that the case was either dropped or that they were officially found "not guilty" of driving while intoxicated, he or she may once again be eligible to enter Canada. Even after finishing a DUI deferment program, however, a traveler should consider hiring a Canadian immigration lawyer to write a legal opinion letter to the Canadian border explaining why the client should be permitted entry even though a DUI arrest appears on their criminal record.

A deferred adjudication does not begin until after a defendant has pleaded guilty or nolo contendere to their DUI. The court will not enter a judgment of guilty, however, and if the defendant fulfills all the conditions laid out by the court the DUI charges will be dismissed. Common conditions of a one year conditional discharge for a simple DUI with no priors include completing a DMV drunk driving program and paying a large fine ($500 - $1500). The main difference between pretrial diversion and deferred adjudication is that in pretrial diversion if the defendant fails to meet the conditions of the program they must go back to trial since there was no prior guilty plea. While there are several different terms used by various states to describe pre-trial diversion programs, they all do essentially the same thing which is remove a defendant from prosecution prior to a guilty plea (or no contest plea, often called nolo contendere). Although the requirements for conditional discharge programs can be difficult to meet, many first-time DUI offenders opt for it regardless since it allows them the possibility of avoiding a criminal record and the heavy consequences that come with that.

In certain states such as Minnesota, instead of the court not entering a guilty judgment defendants will alternatively get a sentence of "Stay of Adjudication." Regardless of which specific DUI program a person participates in; pretrial diversion, deferred adjudication, probation before judgment, or stay of adjudication, the result will always be "no conviction" (nothing entered on their criminal record) as long as he or she successfully completes all the terms involved. Since the language used in the program documents typically amounts to "not guilty of DUI" for the purposes of Canadian immigration, most people who have fully completed a DUI pretrial diversion or adjudication deferral (with proper documentation) may be admissible to Canada, provided they have no other criminal history, although a legal letter of opinion is strongly advised before attempting to cross the border.

For a free consultation with a lawyer to discuss entering Canada during or after a conditional deferment of prosecution for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, contact our team today!

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