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Deportation worries plague Boulder refugee charged with assault

Assaults are crimes of violence and therefore, are taken very seriously by Colorado prosecutors and judges. Depending upon the nature of the assault charges, a conviction can mean substantial prison time. The stakes can go even higher for defendants who are not U.S. citizens.

A political refugee from Libya who made international headlines in 2011 was jailed recently after her third Colorado arrest in less than two years. The woman, now 32, was granted U.S. asylum, after telling a group of international reporters she had been raped at a Libyan government security checkpoint. The refugee first lived in Denver and then moved to Boulder, where she ran into trouble with the law.

Assault charges from January 2013 were dropped over a bar "disturbance." The woman allegedly was intoxicated at the time and again, when she was taken into custody in August 2013. The immigrant was charged with resisting arrest, assaulting police officers and obstruction after reportedly spitting at one officer and trying to kick others.

The defendant later pleaded guilty to a reduced attempted third-degree assault charge. Part of her one-year probation sentence included a judge's order to refrain from consuming alcohol. The woman pleaded not guilty to new assault charges filed last February, linked to an apparent bar altercation that left a patron with a head wound.

A Denver refugee placement agency worked with the woman briefly, but lost touch after the refugee relocated to Boulder. The woman has a meager income provided by the Libyan Embassy and has not been able to find work. Before an October trial on the newest charges, a hearing will decide whether probation is revoked – the woman also could be deported.

The legal process can be intimidating for anyone and terrifying for defendants with substance abuse or mental health issues. A criminal defense attorney will help defendants struggling with these obstacles to obtain the best possible results.

Source: Daily Camera, "After 3 arrests in Boulder, Libyan refugee Iman al-Obeidi could face deportation" Mitchell Byars, Jul. 27, 2014

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