Information for immigrants who are not US citizens but are facing criminal charges.
Some of the smallest criminal charges can have humongous and disastrous consequences for immigrants who have yet to become a US citizen. These crimes are one which affect one's moral character. An arrest for such crimes is big but a conviction could be a figurative death sentence; removal/deport.
Removal vs. Inadmissibility"Removal" now includes both deportability, under 8 USC section 1227 and inadmissibility under 8 USC section 1182. Inadmissibility means you are not allowed to be able to get your legal status within the US, whether you are here or abroad. Removal or Deportation means you are being forced to leave if you are already inside the US.
Arrest vs. ConvictionArrest means you have been accused of doing something illegal. Usually the police arrests someone for a certain charge but they do not have the power to charge. Police's report is merely a recommendation to the District Attorney (DA). Only the district attorney can charge someone for committing a crime. Sometimes you can be arrested and then the district attorney refuses to file charges. If that happens, you have no convictions. The DA could also choose to charge you for a crime but later drop the charges. They could even charge you with more crimes than for which you were arrested. The DA controls the charges.
Conviction means that you have been judged to have committed the illegal act by the trier of facts (judge or jury). This happens after you have had your "day in court." This means the DA charged you, brought evidence against you or witnesses against you, and despite your defense, the judge or the jury found you guilty. At that point, you will have incurred a conviction or convictions, if there were more than one charge.
For immigration purposes, there is a huge difference between arrest and conviction. Arrests can be explained a lot easier than convictions. It's very important to seek an attorney immediately after an arrest. Do not let your bad situation get worse. It's almost impossible to turnover convictions. As an immigrant, it's highly advisable to not represent yourself--the consequences of a convictions are too heavy.
Good Moral CharacterIn order to become a US legal permanent resident or to become a naturalized US citizen, you will need to show you are and will be a trusted individual who has a good moral character. A non-citizen's criminal record can result in statutory ineligibility to establish good moral character. One cannot establish good moral character if they have been inadmissible due to crimes relating to moral turpitude, controlled substances, prostitution, a 5-year sentence for two or more convictions, domestic violence, or smuggling of aliens.
Crimes of Moral Turpitude & other crimes which could lead to removal/inadmissibility.A crime involving moral turpitude (*CIMT*) has sometimes been defined as a depraved or immoral act, or a violation of the basic duties owed to fellow man, or recently as a *reprehensible act* with a mens rea of at least recklessness. Traditionally a CIMT involves intent to commit fraud, commit theft with intent to permanently deprive the owner, or inflict great bodily harm, as well as some reckless or malicious offenses and some offenses with lewd intent.
However, for immigration purposes, the following crimes have been deemed to be CIMT:
involuntary manslaughter, in some cases
conspiracy, attempt, or acting as an accessory to a crime if that crime involved moral turpitude.
Sex crimes include but are not limited to:
The term *domestic violence* includes felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence committed by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse or intimate partner, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction receiving grant monies, or by any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person*s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction.
Other Deportable Offenses or Causes
While this list is not exhaustive (complete), it provides a good idea of what else could cause major immigration problems:
Sale or Possession of Controlled Substances
Drug addiction or alcoholism
Sentences of over one years
My posts/blogs are to be taken for academic purposes only and NOT LEGAL ADVICE. Nothing on my blogs should lead you to believe there is an attorney-client relationship, nor that I am giving legal advice. Please call my office at (714) 321-9999 for a free consultation to discuss your specific matter where I could then give proper legal advice.