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Immigration Law Blog

Friday, August 3, 2018

Criminal Charges and How they Affect Non-Citizens

Non citizens who have been charged with a crime, have two sets of problems to worry about: the criminal charges, and how those charges might affect their immigration status.

Unfortunately for non-U.S. citizens, a conviction or a guilty plea to a felony, or some misdemeanors, can lead to deportation. The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act expanded the list of felony convictions that can lead to deportation. The law not only affects those charged with felonies but also extends to those non-citizens who are convicted of two or more misdemeanors who may be deported as a result of the crimes. Criminal convictions can also affect one’s application to become a U.S. citizen.

The severity of the consequences is dependent upon how the crime is classified.  Aggravated felonies and crimes of “moral turpitude” can lead to immediate deportation. Some crimes, such as shoplifting, can also be classified as crimes of moral turpitude, since they involve dishonesty.

Therefore, it’s critical that non-U.S. citizens who are charged with a crime contact an attorney for advice regarding his or her legal status before pleading guilty or going to trial on any criminal charge.  The attorney must be informed of the defendant’s immigration status at the first meeting so the attorney can properly defend against both criminal as well as immigration consequences of a conviction.


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