Allegations of criminal wrongdoing can threaten you with all sorts of penalties. They range from fines and community service to jail or prison time and a mar on your record that can impact everything from your employment to your housing. But if you have immigration status in the United States, the implications of criminal accusations can be even more far-reaching. If you’re worried about how allegations that have been made against you may impact your immigration status, please continue reading.
How criminal charges may impact your immigration status
A criminal conviction may have a tremendous impact on your immigration status. This might include each of the following:
- Deportation: If you have immigration status in the United States, you may be subject to removal if you’re convicted of certain crimes. These offenses typically include those that involve aggravated felonies. It’s important to note that for immigration purposes, even some misdemeanors can be considered an aggravated felony. With that said, offenses that lead to deportation are often severe, including kidnapping, rape and drug trafficking. Offenses that result in at least a year of incarceration can be considered aggravated, too, including burglary, forgery and theft.
Crimes of moral turpitude can also lead to deportation. These are usually offenses that involve some type of dishonesty or are otherwise socially unacceptable.
- Denied entry: If you’ve been convicted of a crime of moral turpitude and were not deported, as the government has a lot of discretion in deciding whether to move forward with removal, you can still face negative immigration consequences. For example, if you leave the country and attempt to come back, your previous convictions may lead to denied entry. If you have two convictions for crimes of moral turpitude, you very well may be denied entry.
Even offenses not related to moral turpitude may lead to denied entry. This is especially true if the sentences related to those offenses exceeded five years.
- Citizenship denial: Depending on the type of criminal offense that you’re convicted of, you may be denied the ability to seek citizenship. Even if your criminal record isn’t a complete bar, it may delay the citizenship process by years, which can be an emotional blow to you and your family. Again, criminal offenses that show a lack of moral character will put you most at risk of being impacted here.
Defending your interests
As you can see, there’s a lot at stake when you’re facing criminal charges. That’s why you need to diligently assess your circumstances and figure out the best way to defend your interests. This means gathering evidence, talking to witnesses and anticipating the prosecution’s arguments. You need to know the law and how to use it to your advantage, and you shouldn’t take a plea deal until you’ve carefully thought through all of the implications of a criminal conviction.
Do you need an attorney on your side?
We know that dealing with allegations of criminal wrongdoing can leave you on edge. After all, the stakes are high. That’s why as you navigate your case, you may want to consider having a legal advocate by your side. By having a skilled attorney on your side, you stand a better chance of crafting the persuasive and compelling criminal defense strategy that you need to maximize your chances of beating the prosecution. Hopefully, you can put your fears to rest and get back to a normal life as you know it.