Immigrant Walks Free and No Longer Fears Deportation After an Unlawful Felony Conviction

Nearly a year ago, Ahmed Altayeb – who emigrated to the U.S. from Yemen in 1997 – was arrested on charges of reckless discharge of a firearm and aggravated unlawful use of a weapon. Altayeb had chased a repeat shoplifter out of the Handy Pantry where he worked while holding a gun, which he then fired several times as the shoplifter drove off. The entire event was caught on security cameras.

The prosecution dismissed the charge of reckless discharge of a firearm, but the charge of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon was upheld and Altayeb was imprisoned. However, the reckless discharge law had been ruled unconstitutional months before, since it violates people's rights under the Second Amendment (the right to bear arms).

While looking through case notes in August of 2014, the first assistant state's attorney told the judge that the decision to move forward, regardless of the unconstitutional law, had been made by a prosecutor who no longer works for the state's attorney. The defense attorney representing Altayeb at the time had also known about the law's unconstitutional status, yet Altayeb was still convicted.

The judge was incredulous. Our attorneys who represented during these later proceedings, made it clear that there was error on both sides leading to Altayeb's wrongful conviction. The judge agreed and reversed the conviction.

Altayeb is now free from federal custody and no longer fears deportation. He plans to continue working in the U.S. to support his family, who are overjoyed that he is free. Altayeb says that, if any similar problems arise in the store, he will simply call the police.

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