Immigration Consequences of Criminal Allegations

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4th May 2015

The consequences of an acknowledgement of guilt on a criminal case can be especially harsh for aspiring Americans, and any immigrant who has not yet become a citizen, or who is not eligible for citizenship, can be removed from the U.S. due to certain crimes or acts. These offenses are listed in the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a) and they include:

• Controlled substance offenses;
• Crimes of moral turpitude;
• Multiple moral turpitude convictions;
• Aggravated felonies (as defined by the U.S. Government);
• Firearm and destructive device convictions;
• Espionage, sabotage, treason, and other crimes;
• Crimes of domestic violence, stalking, child abuse, abandonment, or neglect;
• Failure to register as a sex offender;
• Violating a protective order;
• High speed flight from an immigration checkpoint; and
• Failure to register or falsification of documents.

In addition to the categories of crime listed above, which could expose an immigrant to deportability, there are several offenses that could cause an immigrant to be classified as “inadmissible”. These are codified in 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a). Most commonly, this impacts green card holders who apply for citizenship, and can place their naturalization pathway in jeopardy. These crimes are listed as crimes of moral turpitude, controlled substance offenses, and multiple criminal convictions.
Beyond criminal convictions, many acts do not even require court proceedings and a finding of guilt in order to seal the fate of a non-citizen as “removable.” This can include crimes of moral turpitude, controlled substance offenses, prostitution, fraud or misrepresentation, false claims to United States citizenship, alien smuggling, marriage fraud, human trafficking, money laundering, espionage, sabotage, treason, terrorism, international child abduction, and others.
An acknowledgement of guilt triggers these immigration consequences. The government does not differentiate between adjudication and a “withhold of adjudication”. When a person pleads guilty, it is, essentially, all the same.

Seek Advice and Representation Now

For many non-citizens accused of crimes, understanding the impact of an acknowledgment of guilt, or even of charges or mere accusations, is crucial. Definitions, especially those relating to aggravated felonies and crimes of moral turpitude, are extremely complex, and the way that they are applied is even more uncertain. A criminal defense attorney with experience advocating for immigrant clients will be able to inform you on how the law might apply to you, and will fight for your rights to remain in the United States. Contact attorney Scott B. Saul today for a free consultation on the potential immigration consequences of any allegations leveled against you. We serve clients throughout South Florida