Attorney Michele Da Silva is an aggressive immigration and criminal defense attorney.
What You Should Know
There are severe immigration consequences that result from criminal convictions. In fact, the immigration consequences in many instances may be more serious than the criminal consequences. A criminal conviction, even for a minor misdemeanor or infraction, can result in the following: (a) deportation and exclusion from the United States (b) denial of naturalization (c) ineligibility for various immigration benefits or relief from removal permanently barring an individual from lawfully returning to the United States.
Therefore, it is important to obtain competent legal advice from a criminal defense attorney who understands the complexity of the immigration system and the implication of potential criminal conviction before you agree to any plea.
Who Can Be Deported As A Result Of A Criminal Conviction?
Any person who is not a United States citizen, including lawful permanent residents, can be deported because of a criminal conviction. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) recognizes three categories of crimes that can place a non-citizen at risk of deportation or prevent a non-citizen from ever becoming a lawful permanent resident.
Aggravated felonies are the most serious crimes and are specifically defined by statute in the Immigration and Nationality Act. Because of the sentence imposed by the state criminal court, some common misdemeanor crimes can be considered aggravated felonies for immigration purposes. These crimes include theft and crimes of violence. For both of these crimes a non-citizen can be placed in deportation proceedings and deported from the United States, if the person is sentenced to more than one-year imprisonment, including any suspended time. A “crime of violence” is a term vaguely defined by the United States Code and could include convictions for assault in the fourth degree and felony driving under the influence.
Crimes of moral turpitude are the second category of crimes that can impact a non-citizen’s ability to remain in the United States. Federal circuit court decisions and the Board of Immigration Appeals define these crimes. Generally, a crime of moral turpitude is defined as a crime that encompasses a base or vile act. Although the case law interpreting the term is not entirely uniform, the following types of crimes have been held to involve moral turpitude:(a) crimes (felonies or misdemeanors) in which either an intent to defraud or an intent to steal is an element; (b) crimes (felonies or misdemeanors) in which there is an element of intentional or reckless infliction of harm to persons or property;(c) felonies, (d) and some misdemeanors, in which malice is an element; (e) sex offenses, in which some “lewd” intent is an element.
Thus, murder, rape, voluntary manslaughter, robbery, burglary, theft, arson, aggravated forms of assault, forgery, prostitution and shoplifting have all been consistently held to involve moral turpitude.
A third category of crimes specifically listed in the Immigration and Nationality Act may either trigger deportation or prevent a non-citizen from attaining lawful permanent resident status. Crimes included in this category include violations of any law relating to a controlled substance, domestic violence convictions, judicial determinations of protective order violations and convictions under any law of purchasing, selling, using or possessing a firearm or destructive device.
Dealing With Sentencing in Criminal ?
Sentences are often the most important factor in determining the immigration consequences for a non-citizen defendant. Section 101(a)(48)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act defines a sentence: “any reference to a term of imprisonment or a sentence with respect to an offense is deemed to include the period of incarceration or confinement ordered by the court of law regardless of any suspension of the imposition or execution of that imprisonment or sentence in whole or in part.” Consequently, the Department of Homeland Security will analyze the actual sentence imposed—regardless of any time suspended—to determine whether to initiate deportation proceedings.
Therefore, if you have been charged with a crime and you are not a United States Citizen, before you agree to any plea deals be sure you speak with an experienced immigration attorney to determine the immigration consequences. Call Attorney Michele Da Silva and Da Silva Law Group today at (781)223-6100 for a consultation.