Can Non-Citizens Be Deported for Criminal Convictions?

It is becoming increasingly common for individuals to come to my office facing not only a criminal law issue, but immigration issues as well. Typically these people are here on a visa of some kind or have a green card allowing them to stay in the country legally. Some of them are completely undocumented and have no legal status in the United States. For these citizens of other countries, a criminal charge can have dire consequences.

First and foremost, undocumented persons arrested for an offense will have a "hold" put on them by the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE), which will result in denial of bond, or pretrial release. This can have the effect of individuals being held for lengthy periods pretrial, with the strong likelihood of being deported once the trial is finished.

For individuals from other countries here legally, ICE is not usually involved pretrial. However, there are serious consequences for these individuals if they are ultimately convicted.

Deportation: A Potential Consequence of Conviction or Pleading Guilty

The Immigration and Nationality Act allows for deportation proceedings for any alien convicted of "crimes of moral turpitude" (think of this as crimes involving dishonesty... larceny, perjury, etc.) that carry a possible sentence of 1 year or more. This is tricky because in Virginia most misdemeanors carry the possibility of up to a year in jail, so even a misdemeanor conviction can have the effect of deportation. In addition, it doesn't matter whether the judge actually sentences you to a year or more, it only matters that the judge could have sentenced you to a year or more, so a large number of charges carry the possibility of deportation.

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for inexperienced lawyers to encourage a non-citizen to take some sort of plea deal in their case to avoid jail time, not realizing that the consequence of avoiding jail is deportation for a conviction on a minor charge. Make sure that your lawyer knows the ins and outs of immigration, and can guide you accordingly.

Many types of crimes carry the possibility of deportation upon conviction, including:

Contact an Experienced Defense Attorney for a Free Evaluation

If you or someone you love is facing a criminal charge and they are not a United States citizen, contact us right away! What might seem like a minor violation, even a simple misdemeanor, can have the unwanted consequence of ending your stay in this country. Don't let this happen when in many cases it can be avoided through aggressive defense of your charge.

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