Consequences of Criminal Conduct on Non-Citizens
Denton County Criminal Defense Lawyers
Criminal charges can create enormous complications for immigrants and non-citizens of the United States. Even lawful permanent residents may be subject to removal, arrested, and detained, or denied naturalization because of a criminal conviction—and some criminal matters do not require conviction to trigger inadmissibility or deportability for an immigrant.
Are you an alien or non-citizen who has been convicted of a crime? If so you should consult with us before you:
- Apply for green card or naturalization
- Renew your green card
Discuss your case with our firm. Call us at (940) 580-2899 to schedule your free consultation.
Are you an alien currently facing criminal charges?
Clients often lament, "If I only knew I could be deported when I took that plea, I would never have taken it." The time to strategize your deportation defense is when you strategize your criminal defense.
A criminal conviction could have serious immigration consequences:
- Subject you to deportation / removal proceedings without relief or the ability to file for a waiver
- Subject you to arrest and mandatory detention
- Make you ineligible to naturalize or renew your green card
- Prevent you from obtaining residence
- Affect your ability to travel and petition for other family members
We have a long history of counseling criminal-alien defendants about pleas that would have the least immigration and deportation consequences. Very often, the instinctively lesser charge has a greater immigration consequence.
It Isn't Logical, But It's The Law
The current immigration law is not just unduly harsh—it is also illogical. For example, there are circumstances where a person has a better chance of legally living in the United States and avoiding deportation if the criminal history occurs before they seek permanent residence and get their Green Card than if they had permanent residence and then were convicted.
Take this example:
Client A overstays his legal time by 10 years and marries a United States citizen. He is convicted of money laundering, bank fraud with a loss of $200,000, and grand theft. He is sentenced to 4 years in jail.
Although he is deportable for his crimes, he is still eligible to seek a Green Card and adjust his status based upon his marriage to a U.S. Citizen. It will not be easy, and he will need a waiver, but it will be possible.
Now, look at Client B:
Client has his Green Card for 10 years and is also married to a U.S. Citizen. He gets convicted of the very same crimes with the same sentence. He is deportable and NO WAIVER is available.
The client without a Green Card has an opportunity at fighting deportation, and the client with a Green Card does not. This is just one example of what is NOT logical about immigration law.
Aggravated Felonies Aren't Really Aggravated Felonies
The term aggravated felony is defined in the Immigration and Nationality Act—but it's really misleading. Very often, the term includes crimes which are not aggravated and are not felonies. In immigration law, aggravated felony is a term of art, and you might be convicted of one even if the crime doesn't quite suit the punishment.
Deportable Criminal Offenses
A small sample of some of the most common deportable offenses includes:
- Theft, burglary, fraud offenses, money laundering, and counterfeiting
- Domestic violence and violations of certain protection orders
- Unlawful possession of a firearm
- Controlled substances offenses
- Certain sex offenses, arson, racketeering
- Deferred adjudications for any other deportable offense where there is a finding of guilt coupled with some punishment—this means dismissals may trigger deportability
Expunged and vacated convictions may, in certain circumstances, be treated as convictions for purposes of immigration. Examples of certain criminal activity that can make a person deportable or inadmissible without a conviction are:
- Holding oneself out to be a United States citizen (even just on a job application)
- Where there is reason to believe a non-citizen either was or is a trafficker in controlled substances
- Immigration fraud
- Marriage fraud
Our Denton criminal attorneys at the Law Offices of Tim Powers are extremely experienced in complicated matters involving criminal charges, convictions, and immigration law. We have helped immigrants facing criminal charges in many different situations. Contact us today for a free consultation of your case.
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