Immigration Consequences for Misdemeanor Convictions

A misdemeanor conviction can cause immigration consequences, such as deportation and inadmissibility. A great lawyer is your best hope of finding a resolution that avoids possible immigration issues.

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Deportation of a Lawful Permanent Resident

the United States Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments in Mellouli v Holder, a case challenging the ordered deportation of a lawful permanent resident from Tunisia who was convicted of a misdemeanor drug paraphernalia charge for possession of a sock used to hide drugs. The opinion did not specify the type of controlled substance connected to the charge. The ruling of the Supreme Court has not yet been announced. The decision of SCOTUS will impact the determination of whether a misdemeanor can lead to deportation.

The Immigration Court, Board of Immigration Appeals, and the Court of Appeals found Mr. Mellouli subject to removal under the Immigration and Nationality Act. The Act provides for the removal of “any alien who at any time after admission had been convicted of a violation of…any law or regulation of a State relating to a controlled substance” is subject to removal.

It is difficult to speculate on the outcome of this case. However, pundits seem to believe that a majority of the justices appeared to be reluctant to impose such a harsh penalty on a lawful permanent resident convicted of a minor drug offense. The government will be arguing that Mellouli should be removed.

The decision should be released sometime in Spring 2015.

Some Examples of Misdemeanors Leading to Immigration Consequences, Such as Deportation

Some misdemeanors can lead to deportation, inadmissibility, or difficulty with naturalization. Here are some examples:

  • Drug-Related Offenses: Misdemeanor drug convictions, particularly those involving possession of controlled substances, can lead to serious immigration issues. An exception is often made for a single offense of simple possession of a small amount of marijuana.
  • Domestic Violence: Misdemeanors involving domestic violence, stalking, child abuse, or child neglect can have significant immigration consequences. The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) includes provisions that make convictions in these areas particularly serious for immigration purposes.
  • Firearm Offenses: Certain misdemeanors related to firearms, such as unlawful possession or carrying of a firearm, can impact immigration status.
  • Crimes Against a Person: Misdemeanors that involve violence or threats of violence against a person, such as simple assault, may have immigration repercussions, especially if they are considered crimes of domestic violence.
  • Multiple Criminal Convictions: While a single misdemeanor might not always lead to severe immigration consequences, having multiple misdemeanor convictions can be problematic. This is particularly true if the offenses suggest a pattern of criminal behavior.
  • Fraud and Theft: Certain misdemeanors involving fraud or theft can be problematic, especially if they involve moral turpitude, but even in cases where they might not rise to that level, they can still have immigration consequences.
  • Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude (CIMT): Misdemeanor Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude (CIMT) can lead to deportation and other immigration consequences.
  • Offenses That Violate Immigration-Related Laws: Certain misdemeanors directly related to immigration status, such as fraudulent marriage or falsifying documents, can have direct consequences on immigration.
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Prosecutors and Courts have No Mercy, Even if a Misdemeanor or Felony Might Result in Deportation.

The level of representation required for an acceptable outcome for an alien or lawful resident is far and above that required to obtain that same result for a U.S. citizen. Prosecutors and judges will usually agree to a resolution in a misdemeanor or felony case with the minimum possible impact upon an alien or lawful resident, including the possibility of deportation, but achieving such a resolution takes considerable work, flawless preparation, and an extraordinarily persuasive argument. If you have concerns about a felony or misdemeanor leading to deportation or other immigration consequences, it is critical that you seek the advice of a qualified defense lawyer familiar with immigration consequences as soon as possible.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Regarding Misdemeanor and Criminal Convictions Leading to Deportation

Can a Criminal Conviction Lead to Deportation?

Answer: Yes, certain criminal convictions (even a misdemeanor) can lead to deportation, especially for non-citizens such as permanent residents (green card holders), visa holders, and undocumented individuals. Convictions for aggravated felonies, crimes involving moral turpitude, drug offenses, and certain other serious crimes are most likely to result in deportation.

Will a Misdemeanor Affect My Immigration Status?

Answer: a misdemeanor can lead to issues with someone’s immigration status and even lead to deportation or inability to become naturalized. While misdemeanors are generally considered less serious than felonies, certain misdemeanors, especially those involving drugs, domestic violence, firearms, and crimes of moral turpitude, can adversely affect immigration status. The specific impact depends on the nature of the misdemeanor and the individual’s immigration status.

Can a Criminal Conviction Prevent Me from Becoming a U.S. Citizen?

Answer: Some criminal convictions can impact your ability to naturalize as a U.S. citizen. During the naturalization process, applicants must demonstrate good moral character, and certain convictions, especially those within the statutory period (usually the last five years before applying), may disqualify them.

Are There Any Waivers Available for Criminal Convictions in Immigration Cases?

Answer: Yes, waivers are available for certain crimes, but their availability varies based on the type of crime and the individual’s circumstances. For instance, waivers may be available for minor crimes or cases involving family unity, asylum, or other humanitarian reasons. However, aggravated felonies and serious drug offenses typically do not have waivers available. It is vital that anyone seeking a waiver work with a qualified immigration attorney.

Does the Length of the Sentence Matter in Immigration Consequences?

Answer: Yes, the sentence length can be a critical factor, especially in determining whether a crime is considered an aggravated felony or a crime involving moral turpitude. For example, a crime might be classified as an aggravated felony if a sentence of one year or more is imposed, which can have more severe immigration consequences. The length of the sentence in a misdemeanor can impact whether the conviction leads to deportation or other immigration consequences.

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Criminal Defense Lawyers in Michigan – Reputation for Success

Criminal defense lawyers in Michigan often do not specialize in any particular area of the law. They may “dabble” in family law, personal injury, or drafting wills. The attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. are different than other criminal defense lawyers in Michigan. Our attorneys practice ONLY criminal law, have extensive experience in the field, and have a team of lawyers who work hand-in-hand to obtain the best possible outcome for our clients. Our firm specializes in preparing innovative, aggressive, and winning strategies and defenses for our clients. When your freedom or possible removal from the United States is at stake, it is essential that you have the most respected and experienced legal assistance available. The stakes are especially high when a felony or misdemeanor offense might lead to deportation.

Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete an online 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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