How Does a Criminal Charge Affect My Immigration Status?
If you have been accused of a crime, it is extremely important to retain defense counsel to represent you if you are an immigrant. Immigrants face many of the same penalties that United States citizens face, but they may also face the added penalty of removal or deportation.
Under the current presidential administration, some sources have found that ICE arrests of immigrants have gone up over 32.6% since 2016. Many people make the mistake of taking a criminal plea without understanding the effects that the plea may have on their immigration status.
The safest way to avoid a removal proceeding is to contact a Birmingham criminal defense lawyer who will defend you against a potential conviction and help you to understand the consequences of accepting a plea rather than trying a case. If an individual wants to know more about Birmingham criminal charges affecting immigration status, they should consult a skilled criminal attorney.
Crimes That Can Result in Deportation
Whether an immigrant will be placed into a removal proceeding depends largely upon the factual circumstances surrounding a criminal conviction, as well as the type of conviction itself.
There are two main categories of crimes that can lead to a removal proceeding. If a non-citizen is convicted of an aggravated felony or a crime of moral turpitude, that person likely has a higher risk of facing deportation than if convicted of a lesser crime.
An aggravated felony refers to a heinous act that could result in harsh penalties for non-citizens. Not only can an individual convicted of an aggravated felony face deportation, but that individual may also be barred from claiming certain defenses to deportation and be prohibited from reentry into the United States.
Types of aggravated felonies under federal law 8 United States Code § 1101 include, but are not limited to:
- RICO offenses for a felony offense
- Drug trafficking
- National security offenses
- Money laundering over $10,000
- Human trafficking
One of the Birmingham criminal charges affecting immigration status has to do with crimes of moral turpitude. A crime of moral turpitude is a type of crime that violates community standards of decency. While the list is not definitive, the following crimes may be considered crimes of moral turpitude under federal law 8 United States Code § 1251:
- Tax evasion
- Wire fraud
- Child abuse
How a Conviction Affects Immigration Status
A criminal conviction for an aggravated felony could lead to detrimental effects on an individual’s immigration status.
- Asylum – refers to the protection of an individual that is unwilling to return to his or her home country for fear of persecution based upon religion, race, creed, or national origin. The asylum defense to deportation is a powerful tool to avoid being removed from the United States. A criminal conviction of an aggravated felony, however, excludes an individual from claiming asylum in the United States
- Voluntary Departure – a criminal conviction of an aggravated felony prevents an individual from voluntarily departing the United States. Rather than leaving the United States of their own free will and accord, at their own expense and discretion, people with a criminal conviction can face formal deportation by court order
- Reentry Penalties – an individual convicted of an aggravated felony that is deported and reenters the United States may face imprisonment for up to 20 years
Contacting a Birmingham Criminal Defense Attorney
The criminal justice system can be extremely complicated. If you are convicted of a crime and are not a United States citizen, speak to a Birmingham immigration lawyer immediately because the conviction can have serious implications on your life and the lives of your loved ones.
Failure to retain a criminal defense lawyer who understands both criminal law and immigration law can result in an adverse legal decision that leads to deportation. If you have questions about your legal rights, contact a Birmingham criminal defense lawyer now for an initial consultation. Your attorney can explain more about Birmingham criminal charges affecting immigration status, and can attempt to mitigate those charges.