Individuals who do not have citizenship in the United States run the risk of being deported if they are convicted of certain offenses. It is vital that someone who is facing criminal charges that can result in their removal contact a lawyer immediately so that the most serious consequences are avoided.
Factors that Affect Immigration
If a person commits a crime in the United States, there are a number of factors that affect immigration, including the person’s current immigration status in the country, the particular offense that the person committed and the circumstances surrounding the case. These factors can affect the impact of how a criminal conviction affects whether or not a person is removable.
If a person who is not a citizen is convicted for a crime that involves an aggravated felony or moral turpitude, he or she may suffer harsher consequences than for the commission of other crimes. The conviction of these crimes may prevent a person from being eligible for deportation relief. A person may also be barred from reentering the country for a long time or for the duration of his or her life.
Aggravated felony has a specific meaning under immigration law. A crime can be considered an aggravated felony under immigration law without being considered such by state law. In some cases, a crime under the state law is considered a misdemeanor but considered an aggravated felony under immigration law. In certain situations, even behaviors that are not criminalized can still meet this definition.
The term aggravated felony on its own is not defined. Instead, under the INA, this term is described as a list of possible offenses. These offenses make the defendant removable. The law pertaining to aggravated felonies originally included such serious crimes such as drug trafficking, trafficking of firearms or incendiary devices or murder. However, the list of offenses has continued to grow over time.
Currently, aggravated felonies include such crimes as rape, sexual abuse of a minor, money laundering in cases involving over $10,000, certain offenses related to explosive materials and firearms, crimes of violence, theft offenses, kidnapping, child pornography, certain prostitution offenses, racketeering, illegal gambling, tax evasion cases involving over $10,000, illegal entry or reentry after removal, failure to appear for sentencing when the offense is punishable by at least five years or failure to appear at court for an offense punishable by at least two years, human trafficking, alien smuggling, obstruction of justice, bribery of a witness, perjury, fraud, deceit offenses or document fraud for certain cases. Some of these offenses are only considered an aggravated felony unless the term of imprisonment was for at least one year, making it crucial to get a criminal defense lawyer to help before any sentence is imposed in order to avoid the characterization of this nature.
Other crimes may be included under this definition and are often decided on a case-by-case basis.
Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude
Another type of offense that can make a person removable is one involving moral turpitude. When a person does not have citizenship status and he or she violates the accepted moral code of the community, it may be considered violation of a crime involving moral turpitude. Courts have grappled over the types of cases involving moral turpitude. Some crimes that have been determined to fall under this classification include tax evasion, wire fraud, carrying a concealed weapon in violation of the law, perjury and child abuse. However, this is not a definitive list.
A person who is facing charges for a crime may face serious consequences including possible deportation. However, there is often not an absolute mandate to deport an individual. There are often discretionary decisions that immigration officials can make. Additionally, the way that a person is sentenced and the language included in court documents can have an impact on this decision. This is why it is so incredibly important to receive advice and assistance from a lawyer knowledgeable about immigration law. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service considers several different factors and the punishment imposed on the defendant. Relief from deportation is sometimes provided on a discretionary basis, but it must be requested.