Family Matters Law Group P.A.
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Criminal Repercussions on Immigration Proceedings - Part I

Being charged with a crime when you are not a United States citizen can have harsh consequences on your immigration proceedings. Depending on the outcome of your criminal case, your legal status in this country might be in jeopardy. You may be facing detention, deportation, and/or prohibited re-entry. There are many criminal charges, from misdemeanors to felonies, which may impact your ability to stay legally in the United States, including drug charges, crimes of moral turpitude, aggravated felonies, and gun crimes. In Part I, we will be focusing on crimes considered within the realm of "moral turpitude."

There is no one definition of a crime of moral turpitude. Generally it is defined as a crime that "shocks the public conscience." However, these are crimes that involve fraud and intent to harm persons or things. These include theft, robbery, forgery, larceny, arson, assault, kidnapping, lewdness, manslaughter, and many other examples. It's important to understand that although immigration is regulated federally, state crimes will be defined and regulated by the state. Whether a crime is considered one of moral turpitude also depends on how it is defined in your particular state.

There are two instances when being charged with crimes of moral turpitude will very likely place you into removal (deportation) proceedings: (1) committing a crime of moral turpitude within the first five years of entering the United States and (2) committing two or more unrelated crimes of moral turpitude anytime after your entry into the country.

As an example, our client who shall be referred to as "Ana" was going through her citizenship proceedings when she was charged with Petit Theft, a misdemeanor, of the first degree. Although she has lawful status in the country, Petit Theft is a crime of moral turpitude and may affect her status. We represent her in both her criminal case and immigration case. In her criminal proceeding, we have secured a "nolle prosequi" (a dismissal) in her case and can now use that in her immigration proceeding to help her try to stay in the country.

It is imperative that you contact an attorney as soon as your lawful immigration status may be in jeopardy. It is important to note that accepting any plea offer, even a withhold of adjudication, is still considered a conviction for immigration purposes and could have negative consequences. At Solaris Law Group, we understand both your criminal and immigration cases and how they connect and affect each other. Being experienced in both areas of law will allow us to make sure the right decisions are made in both your cases. Contact us for a free initial consultation.

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