Criminal Convictions Can Have Serious Immigration Consequences

By May 29, 2014 June 3rd, 2020 blog post

Consequences of a Criminal Conviction on Immigration Status

The indirect immigration consequences of criminal activity are a complex area of law. If you have ever been arrested, charged, or convicted of, or in any way suspected of criminal activity, you should consult with a Michigan criminal attorney.

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Anyone who is not a U.S. Citizen may be deported or declared inadmissible for past criminal conduct. If you are not a lawful permanent resident and you are convicted of a removable offense, you may be removed from the United States. You will want to consult with a Michigan criminal attorney to discuss which offenses could result in potential removal from the United States and regarding what can be done to minimize any immigration-related consequences.

The criminal grounds of inadmissibility or deportability may apply to both criminal convictions and criminal activity that did not result in a conviction. A conviction may include a plea of nolo contendere, mere admission to facts sufficient to support a finding of guilt or any punishment, penalty, or restraint on liberty imposed by a judge. To render a noncitizen inadmissible or deportable, the conviction must be “final.”

Deportability v. Inadmissibility

The grounds of deportability differ from those of inadmissibility. Deportability requires that the noncitizen is convicted of the crime. There is an order by a judge or jury, a plea of guilt or nolo contendere, or the alien admitted to facts sufficient to warrant a finding of guilt. Such a finding also requires that some form of punishment be imposed. An experienced Michigan criminal attorney will be able to assist you with issues of either deportation or inadmissibility. A “conviction” for criminal record purposes is different than a “conviction” for immigration purposes.

What is a conviction under immigration law? Is it different than under criminal law?

A “conviction” for immigration purposes is an admission or lack of denial (no contest plea) on the record of facts that constitute a crime. It does not matter under immigration law that a “conviction” was not entered on the defendant’s criminal history. Plea of guilty or no contest under advisement or delayed sentences is still a “conviction” under immigration law. Criminal convictions have the same effect for purposes of both inadmissibility and deportability. Certain crimes will always render a noncitizen deportable, but may not render someone inadmissible. However, some drug trafficking offenses, prostitution crimes, crimes of moral turpitude, and some other offenses may render a noncitizen inadmissible, but may not make them deportable.

What is a crime of moral turpitude?

Moral turpitude is one of the most complex concepts in immigration law. There is no clear definition of moral turpitude. However, many courts have attempted to create one, using phrases such as “an act of baseness,” “conduct that is considered contrary to community standards of justice, honesty or good morals,” “depravity” or “vileness.” While there is no set definition, it is clear that the moral turpitude involved must be part of the essence of the offense. A crime involving moral turpitude need not have resulted in a conviction for it to render a person inadmissible. Admitting to an act that has the elements of a crime involving moral turpitude is sufficient to bar entry. Where an actual conviction occurred, the only issue is whether the offense was a crime involving moral turpitude. Where there is only an admission, several other steps are required. First, it must be clear that the crime the alien admitted to could have been criminally prosecuted in the place where it occurred. Second, the immigrant must fully understand the elements of the crime to which they have admitted. Third, while the immigrant needs to say that he/she is guilty of an offense, he/she does need to admit to all of the essential elements of the offense. Fourth, the admission must be voluntary.

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A Criminal Defense Lawyer can help a non-US Citizen

Anyone who is not a U.S. Citizen may be deported or declared inadmissible for past criminal conduct. If you are not a lawful permanent resident and you are convicted of a removable offense, you likely will be removed, and the need for hiring a criminal defense specialist is critical. For Lawful Permanent Residents, there is some hope even if you are convicted of a removable offense because the law provides for Cancellation of Removal under certain circumstances. The lawyers with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have vast experience in helping those individuals who are not United States Citizens through the criminal defense process and doing whatever is necessary to achieve a resolution that will result in the least possible immigration consequences.

Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyers Who Can Help You

Call one of the Michigan criminal attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or fill out a Request for Assistance Form and one of our attorneys will contact you as soon as possible. Don’t delay seeking help if you are at the risk of being deported or if you are concerned that your immigration status will be at risk.

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