The interplay between criminal charges and potential immigration court consequences is at the center of a dispute involving a recent professional football draftee. Kenrick Ellis moved to Florida from Jamaica when he was 11-years-old. He grew up in Palm Beach County and attended high school in Greenacres, Florida. Ellis was drafted in the third round of this year's NFL draft. The football player currently has permanent residency status in the United States, a status he has held for more than five years.
Last year Ellis was arrested in Virginia after an alleged altercation at Hampton University. In a civil lawsuit, a former student at the school claims Ellis attacked him without provocation, leaving the student with a broken nose and jaw. Sources close to Ellis tell ESPNNewYork.com the student harassed Ellis' girlfriend and then went after Ellis with a baseball bat. The sources say Ellis acted in self-defense.
The football player faces felony assault charges related to the alleged April, 2010 incident. Because the man is not a U.S. citizen, he could face deportation if convicted of the felony charge. Because Ellis has permanent residency status in the U.S. for more than five years, a misdemeanor conviction may not mandate deportation under immigration law.
Self-defense generally can be a defense to an assault charge. The accused now may have to choose between rolling the dice with a jury and pleading the case down to a misdemeanor. That can occur in any criminal case, but the stakes may seem a little different with the potential for deportation looming.
The criminal trial was scheduled to begin Tuesday. However, Ellis has asked for the matter to be delayed. The trial has been rescheduled for November, 28. Potentially, if the NFL plays football this season, the NFL draftee may seek to have the trial rescheduled again for a later date as the November criminal trial date approaches.
Source: ESPN, "Kenrick Ellis gets trial rescheduled," Rich Cimini 8 Jul 2011