U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in Moncrieffe v. Holder, holding that a state drug conviction is not an aggravated felony when the statute of conviction extends to the social sharing of a small amount of marijuana. The case has important implications not only for noncitizens charged with drug trafficking, but also for the application of the categorical approach in immigration proceedings.
Adrian Moncrieffe, a Jamaican permanent resident of the United States, was arrested in 2007 in Georgia while in possession of 1.3 grams of marijuana. Mr. Moncrieffe pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute, a felony under Georgia law, and was sentenced to five years of probation. In 2010, the Department of Homeland Security successfully brought removal proceedings against Mr. Moncrieffe arguing that his conviction in state court corresponds with an aggravated felony, which made him removable. Mr. Moncrieffe appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals, which upheld the lower court’s decision. After the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit denied review, Mr. Moncrieffe filed a petition for a writ of certiorari with the United States Supreme Court.