If you are not a US citizen, a conviction in the US can result in deportation, exclusion and removal. Federal immigration law changes rapidly, so consulting a seasoned professional criminal defense attorney, and possibly even an immigration law specialist, is always in your best interest if facing a criminal conviction with immigration consequences.
The federal immigration system classifies persons in three different categories: US Citizens , Lawful permanent residents (LPR) and undocumented aliens.
There are three types of criminal convictions that can result in immigration problems for LPR's and undocumented aliens:
1). Aggravated Felonies (AF): Many felonies, and even several misdemeanors in state court, can be considered aggravated felonies in the federal system. AF's are deportable, excludable from many forms of relief, and detain-able without bond for removal proceedings. AF's are also subject to more serious punishments if convicted of illegal re-entry.
2). Crimes of Violence (COV): If convicted of a domestic violence (DV COV), the conviction is generally a grounds for deportation, whether a misdemeanor or felony. If a COV defendant receives a sentence over one (1) year, it is automatically an AF, regardless of the status of the victim.
3) Moral Turpitude Crimes (CiMT): This definition comes from federal, not state law, and has been re-defined many times. It previously included an crime involving a “readiness to do evil”, but has now been more loosely defined to include intent to defraud, to cause great bodily injury (GBI), and theft to deprive permanently. Also, most sex crimes also fall within this category.
So who gets deported, and for what?
A non-citizen is deport-able if they have 1) at least 2 convictions of CiMT's, at any time after admission into the US; or 2) One conviction of a CiMT, if committed within 5 years of admission to the US, or adjustment to LPR status, if the offense carries a potential sentence of at least one year. The “potential sentence” is important, even if the person is not given the full sentence.
Fortunately, the California legislature amended Penal Code §18.5 to re-define most misdemeanors as having the maximum potential of 364 days jail, but a plea must be very carefully crafted. Many charges that would seem to be deport-able may not be, just as several allegations that seem innocuous could result in deportation proceedings.
Call an experienced attorney like me, Joel Bailey, for a free consultation to see how I can help keep you, or a loved one, from being deported for a criminal conviction. Yo hablo espanol, y la consulta es gratis.
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