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Immigration Consequences to Criminal Actions

For a permanent resident or other non citizen, being charged with a crime can have ramifications far beyond jail or fines.  Any person in the United States that is not a citizen can be removable (deportable) if they are convicted of certain crimes.  This is potentially true even where a person was granted a deferred judgment or some other type of discretionary action by the court.

Aggravated Felony

Conviction of an aggravated felony is a very serious problem.  When a person is convicted of an aggravated felony, the law says that they are removable.  An aggravated felony can be any of the following:

  • Murder
  • Rape
  • Sexual Abuse of a Minor
  • Trafficking in Drugs or Illicit Trafficking in Controlled Substances
  • Illicit Traficking in Firearms, Destructive Devices or Explosive Materials
  • Money Laundering, if the amount is more than $10,000
  • Certain Firearm Offenses
  • Certain Crimes Involving Arson or Explosives
  • Violent Crimes Where the Person Was Sentenced to One Year or More, Even if the Person Served Less than One Year or No Time at All
  • Theft Crimes Where the Person Was Sentenced to One Year or More, Even if the Person Served Less than One Year or No Time at All
  • Offenses Related to Ransom Demands or Receipt
  • Child Pornography Offenses
  • Racketeering (RICO) offenses, Where the Potential Sentence is One Year or More
  • Crimes Such as Running a Prostitution Businesss, Human Trafficking or Slavery
  • Sabotage, Treason, Gathering or Transmitting National Defense Information, or Revealing the Identity of Undercover Agents
  • Fraud or Deceit Causing a Loss of over $10,000
  • Tax Evasion of over $10,000
  • Alien Smuggling, Except First Offenses Involving a Spouse, Child, or Parent
  • Illegally Re-Entering the Country After Having Been Deported or Removed for Conviction of an Aggravated Felony
  • Forging or Counterfeiting a Passport or Document Fraud Where the Person Was Sentenced to One Year or More, Even if the Person Served Less than One Year or No Time at All, Except for a First Offense Involving a Spouse, Child or Parent
  • Failing to Appear to Serve a Sentence if the Underlying Offense is Punishable by 5 or More Years in Prison
  • Crimes Involving Commercial Bribery, Counterfeiting, Forgery or Trafficking in Vehicles for Which a Sentence of One Year or More Can Be Imposed
  • Crimes Involving Obstruction of Justice, Perjury, or Convincing Another Person to Commit Perjury for Which a Sentence of One Year or More Can Be Imposed.
  • Crimes Related to Failing to Appear before a Court for a Felony Charge for Which a Sentence of Two Years or More Can Be Imposed
  • Any Attempt or Conspiracy to Commit any Crimes Listed Above

The statutory language listing Aggravated Felonies can be found in greater detail here.  Conviction of an aggravated felony is a very serious matter and can have a very serious effect on a person's life.  If you are charged with an aggravated felony, there may be ways to avoid conviction of a crime that will subject you to removal.  If you are charged with an aggravated felony, our experienced attorneys can discuss your options with you and determine whether your charge can be dealt with in a way that will keep you from being removed.

Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude

This is the other big category of criminal activity that causes trouble for many non-citizens.  Depending on the circumstances, the timing of the conviction, the maximum penalty for the crime, the time actually spent incarcerated, the nature of the charge, and the number of other convictions for crimes involving moral turpitude can all potentially have an effect on a person's immigration status.  Furthermore, determining whether a specific crime is a crime involving moral turpitude can be tricky.

Moral turpitude refers generally to conduct which is inherently base, vile, or depraved, and contrary to the accepted rules of morality and the duties owed between persons or to society in general.  See Matter of Franklin, 20 I&N Dec. 867, 868 (BIA 1994).  At this most basic level, it is clear that moral turpitude is difficult to define.  There are cases deciding whether specific conduct constitutes a crime involving moral turpitude, but those cases cannot always tell us whether violation of any specific law, or even the violation of any specific law under a specific set of facts, constitutes a crime involving moral turpitude.

Your Resource in State, Federal and Immigration Court

A noncitizen charged with a specific criminal offense, as well as the facts and circumstances unique to that particular case, can determine whether the person is facing a potential conviction for an aggravated felony or a crime involving moral turpitude.  It is important to acknowledge and address these issues when confronting a criminal charge.  The attorneys at Foster Law Office are experienced in addressing these issues head on in order to determine the best course of action under any circumstances.

For experienced and competent legal advice, please call our law office at 319-383-0405 or toll-free at 866-781-3971, or send our attorneys an e-mail.

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Foster Law Office
720 South Dubuque Street, Suite 1
P.O. Box 720
Iowa City, IA 52240
Phone: 319-383-0405
Toll Free: 866-781-3971
Fax: 319-339-7712
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