When it comes to the law, things can get pretty tangled up, like a plate of spaghetti that’s been sitting out too long. One area where the legal world gets particularly knotted is at the intersection of immigration and criminal law. It’s not an easy task and for most people, It’s not something they can figure out by themselves.
We will be looking at the relationship between the criminal justice system and the immigration in this piece. We’ll examine the potential consequences immigrants may face when they are accused of, or have committed criminal offenses and why it is important to seek the guidance of an immigration lawyer.
For many immigrants, they move to the United States with hopes to live a better life or claim one opportunity or the other. But what happens when things go wrong and you find yourself entangled in a web of criminal charges?
What are the Consequences of Criminal Offenses on Immigration?
Unfortunately, the answer is not a simple one. Criminal offenses can have severe implications for immigrants, potentially resulting in detention, deportation, bars to re-entry or limitations to future naturalization.
First, what does a conviction mean? For a person to be deemed as convicted, they must satisfy one of the following criteria.
- Judge or jury finds guilt
- Defendant pleads guilty
- A “Nolo” plea is entered. This is a plea of no contest, where a defendant neither admits nor denies a charge.
- Defendant admits significant enough charges to warrant a finding of guilt.
The next step is determining whether the crime and sentence are significant enough to affect an ongoing or future immigration petition.
What Kind of Crimes Require Legal Counsel?
Different crimes can be grounds for inadmissibility or deportability and you should definitely seek legal counsel if yours falls under either of these categories. The difference between inadmissibility and deportability is simple. You are inadmissible if you are denied access to entry into the United States. This could be in the form of receiving a green card or change of status within the country. It could also mean that you are not allowed to reenter the country after leaving, even if you already have permanent residence. Meanwhile, deportability means that you have to be removed from the country.
The major classes of crimes that may make you inadmissible or deportable are as follows:
- Crimes of Moral Turpitude: This is a very tricky part of immigration law, as the INA does not actually specify what constitutes a crime of moral turpitude. However, the Florida Supreme Court defines moral turpitude as “inherent baseness or depravity in the private social relations or duties owed by man to man or by man to society” and anything done contrary to justice, honesty, principle, or good morals. Some crimes that fall under this definition include: Murder, rape, robbery, kidnapping, voluntary manslaughter, and many others.
- Controlled substances offense: This covers all kinds of drug crimes including drug manufacturing, drug transportation or sale, possession of drugs for sale, and simple possession.
- Multiple convictions: Here, it doesn’t matter what crimes are committed. You may be declared inadmissible if you commit two or more crimes with sentences that add up to 5 years or more.
Some other crimes include: domestic violence, violation of a protective order, embezzlement or fraud, certain firearm offenses and human trafficking.
How can CFUIS help?
It is important for you to recognize the specific consequences relating to your criminal charge and how they can affect your immigration status.
This is where you will need a lawyer from the Center for U.S. Immigration Services. We can help you understand the potential consequences of criminal charges on your immigration status and advocate for your rights. Because, hey, everyone deserves a shot at achieving their dreams, even in the face of legal obstacles.