You’ve been arrested and you are not a citizen of the United States, what do you do and what can you expect?
To begin, it is important to note that a criminal defense attorney is not necessarily an expert in immigration laws, even though they are an expert in defending criminal charges. It is always a good idea to seek both representation from a criminal defense attorney and advice from an immigration attorney if you are charged with a crime and are not a U.S. citizen.
Grounds for Deportation
The following convictions of certain crimes are considered “grounds for deportation,” meaning Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is legally allowed to remove a non-citizen from the country:
- Crime involving moral turpitude with possible sentence of one year or more, committed within five years of entry to the U.S.
- Two crimes involving moral turpitude not arising out of a single scheme of conduct
- Aggravated felony
- Crime relating to a controlled substance, encompassing any violation of a law relating to a controlled substance, with exception for a single offense of simple possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana
- Firearm offense
- Crime of domestic violence
- Crime of child abuse, neglect, or abandonment
- Violation of a civil or criminal protection order
- Failure to register as an alien or falsification of immigration documents
- Document fraud, including civil document fraud
- High-speed flight or fleeing
- Failure to register as a sex offender
- Terrorist activity
- Engaging in espionage, treason, or sedition (conduct or speech inciting people to rebel against the authority of a state)
- Violation of the Selective Service Act (the military draft)
- Illegal travel
The following charges of certain crimes are considered grounds for deportation:
- Drug abuse or addiction
- Smuggling of other non-citizens
- Violation of a civil protection order
- Civil document fraud
- Falsely claiming U.S. citizenship
- Illegal voting
What is Moral Turpitude?
Moral turpitude is defined as an act or behavior that gravely violates the sentiment or accepted standard of the community. In other words, a crime involving moral turpitude has malicious intent and “shocks the public conscience” as contrary to the rules of morality and the duties owed between persons. These types of crimes can block one’s application for visa or green card and can cause someone who already has one, to be removed from the U.S.
Some examples of types of crimes that involve moral turpitude are:
- Crimes involving intent to cause physical injury
- Money laundering
Some examples of types of crimes that do not involve moral turpitude are:
Charge vs. Conviction
The difference between a charge and a conviction is found within the timing of a case. An individual is charged with a crime when the State has issued a formal complaint, or a written document that outlines which criminal statute was violated and what was done to violate it. With a charge, the person is still considered innocent and has a right to trial to defend that innocence.
An individual is convicted when they have been charged, had their trial, or pled guilty to the charge or charges in a court of law or through a document saying that they are guilty. A conviction of a charge means that person is guilty of violating a criminal statute and that the allegations in the complaint are true.
Therefore, some crimes are only grounds for deportation if the person is convicted or found guilty, and other crimes do not require the proof of guilt and are grounds for deportation even if the person is innocent of the charge.
If you have any other questions regarding criminal charges and convictions that may impact your immigration status in the U.S., we recommend clicking below for more information related to criminal convictions and Global Entry.