Immigration Consequences

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If you are not a United States citizen, a criminal conviction can have especially devastating consequences, including deportation, inadmissibility, and denial of naturalization. These consequences can remain unknown for years until a notice from immigration authorities arrives or citizenship is denied. In other cases, the consequences are immediately known as the defendant is taken into Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody upon release from jail or prison.

These consequences can apply to any non-citizen, not just undocumented immigrants.[1] This include legal permanent residents (“green card” holders), holders of student or work visas, or refugees.

You need a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney you can count on if your immigration status is in jeopardy because of a criminal charge.  Moaddel Law Firm has helped non-citizens protect their status and remain in the United States by contesting the accusations and fighting back against the prosecution.  Call us right away to begin building a legal defense that protects your best interests.

What is at stake with an arrest?

The crimes that can result in deportation or admission are governed by the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”). Deportable crimes include crimes of “moral turpitude,” “aggravated felonies,” controlled substances offenses, domestic violence offenses, and firearms offenses.[2]

Crimes that don’t result in deportation may result in inadmissibility.[3] While conviction for an inadmissible crime may not necessarily lead to removal from the country, it can result in being denied re-entry to the country after leaving, inability to become a citizen, or inability to apply for permanent residence.[4] Multiple convictions for any offenses that result in a total sentence of five years or more results in inadmissibility.[5]

Crimes of Moral Turpitude

Crimes of moral turpitude are not defined in the INA.[6]

California courts have found the following offenses to be crimes of moral turpitude:

However, California courts have found that the following offenses are not crimes of moral turpitude: assault without a deadly weapon, child endangerment, indecent exposure, and involuntary manslaughter.

A conviction for a crime of moral turpitude does not result in deportation unless the offense has a potential prison sentence of one year or more and the conviction occurred within five years of admission to the U.S., or there are two convictions for crimes of moral turpitude that do not arise from the same scheme.[7]

Aggravated Felonies

Any conviction for an aggravated felony renders the defendant deportable. Immigration law defines which offenses are an “aggravated felony.” Some aggravated felonies include murder, rape, drug trafficking, fraud crimes with a loss of over $10,000, and theft crimes that result in a prison sentence over one year.[8]

Controlled Substance Offenses

Even relatively minor drug offense can lead to deportation. Deportable drug offenses include drug manufacture, transportation or sale of drugs, possession for sale, and simple possession.[9]

Domestic Violence

A single conviction of a domestic violence crime can result in deportation.[10] Domestic violence offenses include domestic battery, child abuse, and violating a restraining order.[11]

Firearms Offenses

Common firearm offenses in California include illegally purchasing, selling, possessing, using, carrying, or assault with a firearm.[12]

In some cases, you can be deported without even being convicted of a crime. Instead of being based on a conviction, these deportations are “conduct based.” The INA provides for deportation or inadmissibility for engaging in drug trafficking or prostitution, even without a criminal conviction.[13] Additionally, you can be deported for drug addiction even if you are never charged with a drug crime.[14] In these cases, early intervention by an experienced criminal defense attorney is key to preventing the prosecutor from filing charges against you that can later be used to support conduct based immigration consequences.

Post-Conviction Motions

If you already have a criminal conviction, a post-conviction motion may enable you to avoid the immigration consequences of your conviction.

Some common post-conviction motions are:

  1. Reducing a felony conviction to a misdemeanor
  2. Vacating a guilty or no contest plea based on an error in the proceedings
  3. Re-sentencing
  4. Vacating a conviction based on ineffective assistance of counsel

Please see our page on Post-Conviction Motions for more information.

There is no time to waste if you or a loved one have been charged with a criminal offense and you are a non-citizen.  Once you are formally charged, the case begins building against you and your ability to remain in the U.S. becomes jeopardized.  You need to speak with a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney who understands how criminal law applies to immigration status, and Moaddel Law Firm knows exactly how much it means for you to stay in the country.  We consistently fight hard for our clients to obtain the most favorable resolution possible.

Call today to retain a skilled attorney to protect your rights: (877) 375-8188!

[1] 8 U.S.C. § 1227.

[2] 8 U.S.C. § 1227.

[3] 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a).

[4] 8 U.S.C. § 1255.

[5] INA 212 (a)(2)(B).

[6] 8 U.S.C. § 1101.

[7] INA 237(a)(2)(A)(l).

[8] 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(43).

[9] INA 237(a)(20)(B).

[10] INA 237 (a)(2)(E).

[11] INA 237 (a)(2)(E).

[12] INA 237 (a)(2)(C).

[13] INA 237

[14] INA § 212(a)(2)(B).

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