What sort of convictions have immigration consequences?

On Behalf of | Apr 2, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

Non-citizens who live in central Florida charged with a crime may face a looming threat of deportation.

Even permanent residents who have lived in the United States for years may face deportation after certain criminal convictions.

Under federal law, several specific crimes make a non-citizen deportable. Often, a person will have few options in front of a federal immigration court after they get convicted of a crime that makes them deportable:

  • Convictions for so-called aggravated felonies make a non-citizen deportable under federal immigration law. While some crimes on the list of aggravated felonies make sense, in other cases, what constitutes an aggravated felony may seem remarkably strict.
  • For example, certain property crimes, including theft in any amount, may be aggravated felonies if the possible jail sentence is at least one year. Likewise, any dealing in drugs or firearms in any amount can be an aggravated felony.
  • Any crime of domestic violence, even a first-time offense, can lead to deportation.
  • Just about any crime related to firearms or drugs can lead to deportation. There is an exception for the possession of relatively small quantities of marijuana.
  • It is worth pointing out that a criminal history related to drugs and alcohol could give authorities grounds to deport a person as a drug abuser or addict.

There is also the catch-all crime of moral turpitude. A person who has been in the United States for less than five years faces deportation after being convicted of a crime of moral turpitude. Someone who has been in the United States longer faces deportation after a conviction of two or more crimes of moral turpitude.

It can be hard to know exactly what is or is not a crime of moral turpitude. Generally, a person must face a sentence of at least one year.

The good news is that certain common crimes, including driving under the influence of alcohol with no aggravating circumstances, are usually not crimes of moral turpitude.

But, even a slight change of facts, such as a serious accident in a drunk driving case, can change the result.

Non-citizens need to know their defense options

Early on in their case, non-citizens will want to know whether the criminal charge they face could lead to their deportation. Especially if a conviction does put their immigration status at risk, they will want to understand their legal options and their possible defenses.