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Posted by attorney Theodore Robinson

Aggravated felonies, which consist of crimes that involve weapons, injuries or potential for injuries are the most serious crimes and are specifically defined by statute in the Immigration and Nationality Act. Even some Misdemeanors can be consisered as Aggravated Felonies when certain sentences are imposed by a state criminal court.

Those common misdemeanor crimes can be considered aggravated felonies for immigration purposes. Those include crimes of theft and crimes of violence. For either of those crimes any non-citizen can be scheduled for a deportation proceedings and can be deported from the United States, if the person is sentenced to more than one-year imprisonment, which is calculated to include any suspended time on the jail sentence.

A "crime of violence" is a term vaguely defined by the United States Code and could include convictions for assault in almost any degree and even for felony driving under the influence in many instances.

Crimes of moral turpitude are the second category of crimes that can negatively impact on any non-citizen’s ability to remain in the United States. Those crimes have been defined in both Federal circuit court decisions and the Board of Immigration Appeals as any crime that includes or encompasses a "base or vile act." While the various cases decided are uneven, there are certain types of crimes that have been directly held to involve moral turpitude:

•crimes (felonies or misdemeanors) in which either an intent to steal or defraud is an element of the crime; This could conceivably include crimes such as larceny of any degree, credit card and identity thefts, "phishing" on the Internet and any other type of crime where the perpetrator seeks to criminally take advantage of others particularly in the U.S.

•crimes (felonies or misdemeanors) in which there is an element of intentional or reckless infliction of harm to persons or property:

•felonies, and some misdemeanors, in which malice is an element;

•sex offenses, in which some "lewd" intent is an element.

Thus, murder, rape, voluntary manslaughter, robbery, burglary, theft, arson, aggravated forms of assault, forgery, prostitution and shoplifting have all been consistently held to involve moral turpitude. There are others as well, so it is worthwhile to review the specific case law on this issue.

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