How A Felony Affects Immigration Status & Why You Should Hire A Criminal Attorney

The last thing you’d want to go through is committing a felony in the United States when you’re on a green card or a visa. There is a chance that you could be deported by immigration officials. You also face the possibility of your status being downgraded depending on the severity of the felony.

Aggravated felonies or those convictions that involve “moral turpitude” cases carry harsh consequences for those that are not US citizens. You’re ineligible for relief from deportation and the chances are high that you will be barred from reentering the country in the future.

Aggravated Felony

To put it into context, an aggravated felony will involve offences that are considered to be misdemeanours in some jurisdictions. In some situations, the conducted might not even be criminalized. To put it in simple terms, it has been put under a unique category in immigration law and encompasses a myriad of acts that can be considered removable by congress.

Aggravated felony law was initially enacted in 1988 and was limited to only serious crimes such as murder, illicit trafficking of firearms, and federal drug trafficking. Congress has since added a couple of offences to the law:

  •       Theft
  •       Simple battery
  •       Filing fraudulent tax returns
  •       Failure to appear in court
  •       Consensual and premeditated sex between a 17-year-old and a 16-year-old

An immigrant could still be deported if he or she was convicted before the additional offences were added to the list. The only exception is when congress states otherwise.

Crimes of Moral Turpitude

Such crimes can be defined as those that defy the accepted moral standards of a community. The list below are some of the examples of crimes of moral turpitude but is not exhaustive by any stretch of the imagination.

  •       Child abuse
  •       Wire fraud
  •       Tax evasion
  •       Perjury
  •       Carrying a concealed weapon

Consequences for Felony Convictions for Immigrants

If you’re a foreigner, being convicted of such offences doesn’t necessarily lead to deportation. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) will look at a number of factors before deciding on an appropriate penalty for the offence. As much as the early forms of relief of deportation are going to be discretionary, the majority of aggravated felony offences will lead to deportation. Below are some of the possible consequences of immigrants that have been convicted of an aggravated felony.

Refugee (Without LPR Status): You could be deported immediately after a criminal conviction. This is despite the fact that you could be in serious danger should you return to your country. Depending on the judicial discretion, you might be denied the ability to get LPR status.

Asylee (Without LPR Status): Could be deported after being convicted of a “serious” crime. This will include aggravated felonies and some felonies which are again subject to judicial discretion.

Legal Permanent Resident: If subject to deportation, one could be detained at the removal proceedings. You could be facing up to 20 years in prison if you enter the county without permission after deportation. In cases not removed, LPR could permanently be barred from becoming a natural citizen.

Non-Citizen (Without Legal Status): Since undocumented immigrants will be in the country illegally, any criminal activity could automatically result in deportation.

Protecting Yourself Against Removal If Charged With a Crime

If you’ve been charged with a crime and you’re not a U.S citizen, the best solution would not only be to look for a criminal attorney but an immigration lawyer as well. The work of the immigration attorney is to help by making sure that the crime you’ve been charged with is not being defined as an aggravated felony.

If you don’t have the financial means, the government should be able to provide a free criminal attorney. You will have to pay the fees for the immigration attorney separately. It is worth hiring an immigration attorney because criminal lawyers will rarely understand the immigration implications of the felony.

Even if you’ve been convicted of a felony and facing removal, it is still advisable to hire an immigration attorney, as there are some things that might have been overlooked.

As an apparent aggravated felony case, you can expect to be placed in detention as you await the hearing of your case. You’re not eligible for bail. That is why it is important that you look for The Best Criminal Lawyers in Melbourne to help with your case.

Limitations Placed on Aggravated Felons

As an aggravated felon, you’re not eligible to apply for asylum or protection against torture, even if that is the immediate danger you could face when deported. An aggravated felon is eligible to defense for removal once they’ve been convicted. Once you’ve been removed from the United States, you’re permanently inadmissible. What this means, is that you will never be eligible for a visa or a green card. 

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