Criminal Charges and Immigration

When a person is convicted of committing a crime, the court will hand down the penalty they are required to serve as punishment. If the individual who is convicted is an immigrant – whether in the United States legally or illegally – there will likely be even more dire penalties involved because that conviction may mean they will be forced to leave the country. This is why any immigrant who has been charged with a crime should immediately contact an immigration attorney who is also well versed in criminal law.

United States Immigration Laws

In the majority of cases, the immigration laws of the U.S. state that any noncitizen who is convicted of a crime must be removed. There may be some exceptions, but those are few and far between.

Under U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act, there are two types of crimes that will result in a non-citizen’s removal from this county. The first is an aggravated felony. If the individual is convicted of an aggravated felony, they will not be able to seek asylum. If they have already been granted a green card or a visa, they will immediately be removed from the country. If the convicted individual has already applied for citizenship, their application will be denied, they will be barred from re-submitting, and they will be removed from the country.

It is important to keep in mind that the definition of aggravated felony is different under federal immigration law and state law. In fact, there are many crimes that state laws classify as misdemeanor offenses that immigration laws consider aggravated felonies and convictions would result in the person’s removal.

The second type of crime that could result in removal is called a crime of moral turpitude (CIMT). Examples of CIMT crimes include murder, assault, child abuse, rape, sexual offenses, theft, fraud, and crimes against the government. If the individual commits two CIMTs from the time they are admitted into the U.S., they can be removed from the country.

In many criminal cases, the defense and prosecutor will work out a plea bargain. This enables the person accused of the crime to receive a lighter sentence if they agree to plead guilty of the crime. However, plea bargains are still considered a conviction. This means that is an immigrant who is arrested for a crime that falls in one of the above categories and they agree to plead guilty, then they now will have a conviction on their record which will now trigger the process of removal under immigration laws.

Although an immigrant who agrees to a plea bargain can eventually apply for a waiver of inadmissibility in order to gain permission to reenter this country, this can only happen once they are already deported, which can result in long separations from their families and loved ones.

This is why immigrants who are accused of crimes not only need a skilled defense attorney, like an immigration attorney in Virginia from The Federal Practice Group, they also need one who is seasoned in immigration law, as well. If you have been arrested and are facing criminal charges, meet with an immigration attorney who can protect your rights.