What are the possible immigration consequences of criminal convictions?

Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney Team

Deportation and Immigration Consequences of Criminal Convictions

Aside from the usual criminal punishments that convictions carry, some crimes carry immigration consequences, including the possibility of deportation consequences. Concerning the term “conviction,” this means a person has been found guilty by a judge or jury or has pleaded or admitted guilt, and the judge has imposed some punishment.

A pending appeal will not stop a deportation proceeding. A person can be deported even if an appeal is pending. However, if the conviction is reversed on appeal, the defendant may file a petition to reopen the immigration case.

Some kinds of agreements are considered convictions. These include plea agreements entered into by the government and the defendant. Even if the sentence has been suspended (not entered), it counts as a conviction if the agreement includes the defendant’s acknowledging guilt. The whole point of trying to arrange a deferred sentence is to shield a defendant from some of the case’s consequences. However, for immigrants, even a deferred conviction or sentence counts as a “conviction” for immigration purposes; this includes HYTA, MCR 771.1, MCL 769.4a, and MCL 333.4711. In fact, even expunged convictions can be used as the basis for a deportation action.

Agreements which are not used as a deportation basis are juvenile adjudications, convictions requiring less than beyond a reasonable doubt standard of proof, and accelerated rehabilitation diversion programs (although admissions of guilt in such agreements may be used as a basis for deportation, even where the conviction itself does not).

A great criminal defense attorney may be able to prevent immigration consequences.

A highly experienced, knowledgeable, and effective criminal defense lawyer will know how they can help a client avoid possible immigration consequences. A highly persuasive attorney may convince a prosecutor to change charges to an offense that will not have an immigration-related consequence. This is commonly called a plea bargain. The best way to avoid the collateral consequences of a conviction is for the lawyer to arrange for an outright dismissal of all charges or achieve an acquittal at trial.

Cases that Carry Deportation as a Consequence of Conviction

There are 5 types of cases that can lead to deportation and other immigration consequences: crimes involving moral turpitude (CIMT), firearms offenses, drug offenses, and domestic violence.

Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude (CIMT):

Turpitude means depravity or wickedness. Some examples include fraud, theft, aggravated assault, receiving stolen property, perjury, retail fraud, murder, and kidnapping. If the CIMT was committed within 5 years of admission to the United States and the maximum potential jail term is one year and 6 months, or more was imposed, deportation may be effectuated. If a defendant is convicted of 2 or more CIMT’s, they are deportable regardless of the potential jail penalty. CIMT’s include serious aggravated felonies (AF’s) such as murder, child pornography, money laundering, to name just a few. Any offense becomes an AF when an element of the felony is a crime of violence. A defendant can be convicted of a CIMT and avoid deportation if the particular crime is deemed a “petty offense exception.” These cases are where the maximum penalty does not exceed 1 year in jail, and the actual sentence imposed was less than 6 months. Crimes involving moral turpitude will almost always result in immigration consequences if there is a criminal conviction.

Aggravated Felonies

These are serious offenses that endanger the public to a high degree. They include espionage, sabotage, treason, murder, kidnapping, etc. Common sense dictates that these crimes merit deportation in the government’s eyes.

Firearm Crimes

Conviction of a firearm offense will lead to deportation. The acts underlying these offenses are possessing, selling, exchanging, owning, carrying firearms, or attempting to do any of the above. If you are a non-citizen, having any involvement with firearms is strictly forbidden.

Drug Offenses

A non-citizen is deportable for any drug conviction. This includes conspiracies or attempts to violate drug laws. Paraphernalia is also included, so non-citizens should not have any drug involvement to be safe. There is one exception to this rule: a non-citizen can have 30 grams or less of marijuana for their own use and have only one such offense on their record.

Domestic violence (crime of domestic violence COV)

A COV includes domestic violence, stalking, child abuse, child neglect, and child abandonment. A COV is any crime that involves the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against another person or their property. Violation of a protective order, such as a personal protection order, will result in deportation proceedings.

The United States Supreme Court has ruled that the 6th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (the right to counsel) requires defense attorneys to explain to a defendant the possible immigration consequence of any guilty plea. If the attorney fails to do so, it can be used to appeal a conviction on ineffective assistance of counsel grounds. But remember, the deportation will proceed despite an appeal based on a poorly skilled attorney’s mistakes. Because the immigration consequences of criminal convictions can be so draconian, it is critical to work with top defense attorneys with extensive experience.

Additionally, according to the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, federal judges must also warn defendants of potential deportation consequences of certain guilty pleas. But it would be best if you had an attorney who does not have to be reminded by the judge.

Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney

The best firm for fighting deportable charges

The dedicated, experienced, and zealous criminal defense attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have successfully represented numerous clients who are not United States Citizens and who are in jeopardy of deportation because of felony and misdemeanor charges in federal court or state courts in Oakland, Macomb, Wayne, Washtenaw, and Livingston Counties and throughout Michigan. We have a well-earned reputation for providing the highest quality defense and aggressive representation, while showing empathy and care for each client. You can also be assured that we are well aware of the immigration consequences of criminal convictions and know what it takes to win.

Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete a Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.

We will find a way to help you and, most importantly,
we are not afraid to win!

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