Supreme Court considers if a sock can lead to deportation
Sock technically considered drug paraphernalia under state law
The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing what may be one of its more unusual cases: whether a sock can lead to a deportation order. According to Bloomberg, a permanent U.S. resident from Tunisia, faces deportation after using his sock to hold four Adderall pills. Under state law, the sock is technically considered drug paraphernalia since it was being used to hold drugs. While the case may seem absurd, it could be an important one in order to test how far the federal government can go in pursuing deportation orders.
Sock is drug paraphernalia?
The defendant in this case was a mathematics teacher at a Missouri university and had two masters degrees to his name. During a traffic stop in Kansas in 2010, however, the man was arrested for a DUI and having four Adderall pills hidden in his sock. Adderall is a prescription drug that is popular among university students and professors in order to stay awake and study longer hours.
Under federal law, a person can be deported for violating any state law pertaining to drug offenses. Unfortunately for this defendant, Kansas law has a very broad interpretation of what constitutes a drug offense. According to WSIU News, state law considers anything used to contain drugs as drug paraphernalia, which includes, it would seem, a sock. As such, the man was convicted of misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia, which resulted in his deportation order.
Case goes to Supreme Court
The man appealed his deportation order all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The justices of the court seemed widely sympathetic to the defendant’s plight, with one justice noting that Adderall could be found by “just randomly picking somebody” on half of U.S. campuses. Another justice noted the severity of the Kansas drug paraphernalia law, saying that having a drug in a bag, keeping that bag in a pocket, and then putting the bag in a glove compartment could potentially result in three drug paraphernalia charges.
The federal government has argued before that minor drug offenses, such as possession of drug paraphernalia, should be used as grounds for deporting individuals. In the past decade, however, the country’s top court has generally sided against the government in using such minor drug offenses to issue deportations. While the justices in this case did seem to see the absurdity of deporting someone for a sock, it remains to be seen whether the case will actually limit the government’s power to deport a man for such a minor offense.
This case is just one example of how easy it can be to face a deportation order for even the most minor of offenses. While the above case invites incredulity, it is also an example that every criminal charge should be taken extremely seriously, especially by those who could end up facing deportation. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help any person who faces deportation not only fight against such charges, but also maintain their right to remain in the United States.