The Immigration Consequences Of Criminal Charges
At Coalter Law, PLLC, we are not immigration lawyers, but we understand how immigration law and criminal law interact in the courtroom. Non-U.S. citizens facing criminal charges are also at risk of deportation and a lifetime ban on gaining citizenship. When representing noncitizens, we collaborate with an immigration attorney and always consider the immigration consequences of criminal charges when building a defense strategy.
How Criminal Convictions Impact Immigration
For illegal aliens and immigrants who have a green card or visa, a criminal conviction can have a profound impact on their ability to become U.S. citizens. All immigration forms have a standard question asking if the applicant has ever been convicted of a crime. When the answer is yes, the applicant must provide all the details surrounding the conviction. Even if the crime does not involve violence, any conviction can be used as an argument to deny citizenship because it shows the applicant lacks the “good moral character” required for granting citizenship.
When an illegal alien is convicted of a crime, the likely outcome is time behind bars followed by removal proceedings and deportation.
Criminal Convictions That May Lead To Deportation
Federal law stipulates that immigrants convicted of certain crimes can be automatically deported from the United States. These crimes fall under the categories of aggravated felonies and crimes of moral turpitude. Aggravated felonies include drug distribution and crimes of violence with sentences of at least one year in prison. Crimes of moral turpitude are legally defined as “morally reprehensible and intrinsically wrong.” A short list of this type of crime includes:
- Child abuse
- Animal fighting
- Conspiracy or accessory to a crime of moral turpitude
While the crimes listed above will almost certainly lead to deportation hearings, the government may also use more minor criminal convictions as grounds for deportation. That’s why it is important for noncitizens to consult with a lawyer before going to court.