Criminal Issues & Immigration
The immigration consequences of a criminal plea or conviction may often be far more serious than the direct penal consequences of the crime.
Immigration law contains its own unique and strict definition of “conviction” which is different from other areas of the law. Very often, the adverse immigration effects of criminal cases are far worse for the immigrant than any jail or fine would be.
The consequence of criminal issues facing any intending or current immigrant can affect their both their ability to remain in the USA and their ability enter the USA (admissibility).
The following are some of the basic criminal grounds for deportation and/or inadmissibility:
- Crimes of Moral Turpitude;
- Controlled Substance Law Violation;
- Two or more convictions;
- If a Consular or Immigration Officer has reason to believe that the person is a drug trafficker or assists in trafficking;
- Conviction of an Aggravated Felony;
- Espionage or Sabotage; And
- Domestic Violence, stalking, child abuse/neglect/abandonment.
Some consequences facing noncitizen defendants pleading guilty include:
- Inability to travel outside of the U.S.;
- Inability to renew permanent resident card (i.e., green card);
- Ineligibility for lawful permanent residence (i.e., green card status);
- Ineligibility for citizenship;
- Initiation of deportation proceedings;
- Immediate or imminent placement in immigration detention anywhere across the U.S.;
- Ineligibility for waivers and other forms of relief from deportation;
- Ineligibility for asylum even if faced with persecution abroad;
- Lengthy or permanent exile from the U.S.; And
- Enhanced sentences upon reentry into the U.S.
There are common immigration concerns when formally charged with a crime and seeking to resolve the charge through a disposition or plea bargain:
- Deferred Judgment and Sentence Agreement:
- According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, a conviction that has been expunged, dismissed, canceled, vacated, discharged, sealed or otherwise removed pursuant to a post-conviction rehabilitative state procedure still remains a conviction for immigration purposes.
- Deferred Prosecution:
- Occurs when the court agrees to cease prosecution upon the defendant’s successful completion of certain conditions. Whether a deferral constitutes a conviction for immigration purposes depends on the structure of the deferred prosecution. The key factors are whether the defendant made an admission of having committed the offense and the court imposed conditions as part of the deferred prosecution.
It is strongly recommended that any person that is not a United States Citizen that is arrested or charged with a crime immediately consult with a professional immigration attorney.
For a consultation on these issues, please contact Kolko & Associates, P.C.