Crimes of Moral Turpitude Can Result in Deportation
If you are in the US on a visa, it is even more imperative that you follow the laws and avoid any criminal charges. Any criminal charge against you can serve as grounds to revoke your visa and have you deported back to your native country. If you find yourself in a this situation, contact a criminal attorney, so he can fight for your rights and avoid severe consequences such as deportation. Many visa holders believe this means they cannot commit any major crimes, like drug crimes, assaults or violating US immigration laws. But even being convicted of simple, minor crime such as misdemeanor, can result in deportation and prevent you from returning to the US on any other type of visa for years. Shoplifting, or theft in the third degree in Washington State is an example of a "minor" crime that can lead to federal removal proceedings. Some countries do not prosecute shoplifting crimes to the extent it is done in the US, so visitors from other countries may be unaware of how potentially devastating shoplifting charges can be for their immigration status. A criminal lawyer can help you navigate through this difficult process. Foreign citizens living in Washingtn on visas may incorrectly believe if they steal something, all they have to do is give the merchandise back and all will be forgiven. Unfortunately, most shop owners and other retailers do not forgive theft matters so easily and many will seek to prosecute those who have taken items from their stores. In Washington, a theft can either be a misdemeanor or a felony. If the value of the merchandise stolen is over $750 then it is a felony. If it is less than $250 then it is a misdemeanor. Either offense can result in deportation. In addition to the possible jail time, community service, fines and other fees, those living in the state on student visas, temporary worker visas or with another immigrant status must also worry about the impact a shoplifting conviction can have on their immigration status. One of the conditions for holding a US-issued immigrant visa is following all US federal and state laws. When a visa holder fails to do this, there can be serious consequences. Even charges as seemingly minor as shoplifting can trigger removal proceedings because they are considered to be crimes of moral turpitude. Under federal immigration laws, theft crimes are considered crimes of moral turpitude. If a visa holder is convicted of a crime of moral turpitude, he or she may be deported from the country. A crime of moral turpitude is one that shocks the public conscious or is in contrast to community standards of justice, honesty and good morals. To be a deportable offense, the visa holder does not have to be the one who actually committed the crime. Conspiracy, attempt, aiding and abetting and/or accessory charges related to a crime of moral turpitude also can result in removal from the country. In addition to mandatory deportation, commission of certain crimes also can result in an alien not being permitted to re-enter the US for 5-20 years. Conviction for an aggravated felony, however, will permanently bar an alien from ever returning to the United States again, even on a visitor's visa. Moreover, it is not only non-immigrant visa holders who need to be aware of the impact of being convicted of a crime on their immigration status. Those who hold valid legal resident status (green card) can also face removal proceedings for violating federal and state laws. Permanent residents who are convicted of an aggravated felony may be removed permanently from the country, no matter how long they have resided in the US or if they have family living here. Legal residents who want to become naturalized US citizens may find their path temporarily or even permanently blocked if they do not have a clean record. In order to complete the naturalization process, immigrants must have good moral character. Conviction for crimes of moral turpitude may temporarily prevent an immigrant from becoming a US citizen while conviction for an aggravated felony will permanently bar a citizenship application. If you have been charged with shoplifting or another crime, it is important to contact an experienced criminal lawyer as soon as possible. US immigration laws are very complicated and can be very unforgiving. You want to have an advocate who appreciates the seriousness of your situation and can help you maneuver through the complex legal system on your side. You do not want to face these charges on your own.