Criminal Convictions Can Affect Your Immigrant Status
The immigration laws in the United States are complicated. There are multiple options for visas and many different types of immigrant or nonimmigrant statuses. Being accused of a crime can cause worry, fear and anxiety no matter what type of visa or immigration status you have. At Hildreth & Rueda, our Austin criminal defense attorneys have been practicing law for decades. They will fight for your freedom and future no matter what criminal charges you are facing, regardless of your immigration status.
How Can Criminal Charges Lead To Deportation?
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) oversees and enforces the immigration laws in the United States. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigates immigration violations and has the authority to detain any noncitizen suspected of violating U.S. immigration laws. ICE also initiates removal proceedings to determine if an immigrant should be deported or removed from the country. Unfortunately, any sort of criminal charge can attract the attention of ICE and jeopardize your ability to remain in the United States. Even a permanent lawful resident (also known as a resident alien or green-card holder) can be removed or deported from the country if they commit a crime that is considered to violate moral turpitude.
What Criminal Charges Can Lead To Deportation?
It depends on your immigrant status. If you are in the country illegally, any sort of crime – even a misdemeanor – can get you into trouble with ICE. If you are a lawful permanent resident (green-card holder) the criminal conviction must be a violation of moral turpitude and be serious, for example:
- Aggravated assault
- Failure to register as a sex offender
- Drug crimes, including possession or distribution
- Crimes of domestic or family violence
If you are a lawful permanent resident, and you’ve been accused of a serious crime, hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney to fight the charges against you can save you from a conviction. Avoiding a conviction can save you from the possibility of a removal proceeding and deportation.
FAQ About Criminal Charges And Immigration Status
Here are the answers to some questions our attorneys regularly get asked.
Does a criminal conviction prevent you from getting citizenship?
Conviction for certain felonies, such as homicide, rape, drug trafficking and tax evasion, automatically and permanently bar you from becoming a U.S. citizen. You could also face deportation for being convicted.
Other, somewhat lesser crimes are called “crimes of moral turpitude.” Crimes of moral turpitude include soliciting a prostitute, fraud, drug possession and anything that leads to a sentence of at least 180 days in jail or prison. As a permanent resident, a conviction for one of these crimes prevents you from becoming a U.S. citizen for five years from the date of your conviction in most cases.
Does a misdemeanor make you inadmissible?
Though misdemeanors are considered less serious than felonies, a misdemeanor conviction or even just getting charged in another country can stop you from getting admitted into the United States. This is especially true if the misdemeanor was a crime of moral turpitude as described above.
Does marijuana possession make you inadmissible?
Though many states have legalized marijuana for medicinal or recreational use, possession is still illegal under federal law. Even using marijuana in a state where it is legal can be used to deny you immigrant status. And a marijuana-related criminal conviction can be grounds for deportation.
Call Today For A Free Confidential Consultation
At Hildreth & Rueda, we understand that if you are an immigrant and facing criminal charges you are probably worried and full of anxiety and fear. We offer free, confidential consultations. Call us today at 512-415-7648 or send us an email using the form on our website to schedule your free appointment.
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