How being arrested can affect your immigration status

Being accused of criminal wrongdoing is enough to set anyone on edge. But if you’re not an American citizen, then the ramifications of these accusations can be even more significant. If you don’t know how to navigate your criminal case in light of your immigrant status, then you could be setting yourself up for a disastrous outcome.

With that in mind, this week on the blog we want to look at some of the dangers that non-citizens face when charged with a crime. Hopefully then you’ll at least be aware of what’s at stake in your case and have a better understanding of what you need to do to protect your interests.

The dangers criminal charges pose to non-citizens

Some criminal charges, such as those pertaining to misdemeanor offense, and traffic citations may not seem that serious. But for non-citizens, they can lead to devastating consequences. Here are some of the dangers that you might face if charged with criminal wrongdoing:

  • Your green card application will show your arrests: Even if you aren’t convicted of a crime, your green card application, as well as an application for citizenship, will result in the federal government learning of your arrest. This is because your fingerprints will be run through databases that will pull your arrest history. As a result, immigration will likely ask you questions about your arrest to see if there are any grounds for deeming you inadmissible or otherwise finding that you to lack good moral character. This, in turn, can lead to application denial.
  • You might misunderstand the resolution to your case: A lot of criminal cases end up resolving with an agreement that’s far less severe than what was initially charged. But this doesn’t mean that you’re off the hook. Confusion can arise, though, when pre-trial diversion programs are completed or when you’re placed on probation. Lawyers and judges might even indicate that your case is being dismissed. But that doesn’t mean that the case is off your record. So, as you navigate your criminal case, you need to fully understand what your resolution options mean for your immigration status.
  • A conviction can lead to deportation: When you’re negotiating resolution to your criminal case, you might think that having your case dropped from a felony to a misdemeanor will spare your immigration status, but that isn’t necessarily the case. The federal government is going to consider whether the crime in question involves moral turpitude, and if it does, then you could be subjected to removal proceedings.

There are, of course, certain criminal offenses that put you at more risk than others. This includes drug-related crimes, domestic violence, theft, felony offenses, and any crime involving a firearm. So, if you’re facing an arrest and criminal charges, you need to be prepared to aggressively fight to protect your interests.

Know how to competently navigate your criminal case and your immigration issues

There’s a lot on the line when you’re a non-citizen who has been charged with a crime. Although that can be incredibly stressful to think about, there are steps that you can take to protect your interests. This includes understanding the charges that have been levied against you, knowing the criminal law process to which you’ll be subjected, and how to reduce any showing that you possess poor moral character.

These are intricate situations, which is why you might find yourself looking for assistance to get through the process. Fortunately, there places you can turn to find the help you need to aggressively advocate for your rights and your future.