Criminal Convictions and Immigration Law
Criminal convictions for immigrants can have serious consequences. In addition to being denied a green card or work visa, immigrants who are convicted of a crime can also end up being prohibited from re-entering the United States. Due to these serious consequences, it is a wise idea to obtain the assistance of a skilled attorney if you or a loved one is an immigrant facing a criminal conviction.
Your Right to Trial as an Immigrant
A large number of immigrants have the right to a hearing before an immigration judge. The exact rights of an immigrant, however, depending on the offense that has allegedly been committed. The most common crimes that impact an immigrant’s status include the following:
- Aggravated felonies: Some of the crimes that are classified as aggravated felonies include child porn, bribery, counterfeiting, drug trafficking, failure to appear in court, firearms trafficking, forgery, fraud or tax evasion over $10,000, human trafficking, kidnapping, money laundering over $10,000, murder, racketeering, rape, sexual abuse of a minor, spying, theft, treason, vehicle trafficking, and violent crimes. An immigrant who is charged with an aggravated felony can face both deportation and a prison sentence. After criminal convictions, immigrants may serve a full prison sentence and still face expedited deportation upon completion of the sentence.
- Controlled substance offenses: This category includes drug possession crimes and drug trafficking crimes. Immigrants who are charged with controlled substance offenses face ineligibility for legal residency in the United States, loss of asylum status, mandatory deportation, and mandatory prison sentences.
- Crimes against Children: There is not a specific definition of what offenses constitute crimes against children. An offense is likely to be considered a crime against children if the victim is less than 18 years old. Some of the most common crimes that are prosecuted under this category include assault, domestic violence, endangering the welfare of a child, harassment, kidnapping, reckless endangerment, stalking, and unlawful imprisonment. An immigrant who is convicted of a crime against a child is at risk of being deported. Some of these offenses might also be classified in another category, resulting in additional penalties.
- Crimes involving moral turpitude: These crimes include offenses that shock the public conscience. Some offenses that are classified as crimes of moral turpitude include aggravated manslaughter, arson, assault of a child or law enforcement officer, grand larceny, murder, rape, and robbery. Individuals who lack citizenship and who are charged with a crime of moral turpitude face deportation or may be refused re-entry into the country.
- Firearm offenses: These offenses relate to certain types of weapons, including explosives and guns. Some of the most common types of these offenses include buying illegal firearms, selling illegal firearms, and trading illegal firearms. An immigrant who is charged with this offense faces deportation. In some cases, these offenses might also be considered crimes involving moral turpitude, which can result in additional penalties.
- Prostitution and commercialized vice: This category includes offenses in which sexual acts are performed in exchange for payment. A criminal conviction for these crimes can result in an immigrant being deemed inadmissible to the United States.
Speak with an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
No matter the type of charge, criminal convictions for immigrants can be particularly serious and can result in life-changing consequences. As a result, immigrants who are facing criminal conviction should speak with a seasoned attorney at Kruger & Hodges who can make sure that you have the best defense possible.