I am not a US Citizen; how will this charge affect me?

Criminal Defense Lawyers for Non-Citizens | Divorce Law Representation

While we are not immigration lawyers, we often represent non-citizens in our criminal and divorce cases. We therefore  have a basic familiarity with immigration rules. Often we recommend and work closely with immigration lawyers who guide our clients through that piece oft he process.

Foreign nationals who commit a crime, pose a threat to public safety, or breach their visa may be deported.

Those who enter the United States without travel documents or false documents may be deported without a hearing before an immigration judge under an expedited removal order. Others may face deportation (removal) proceedings before a court.

According to a 2007 Human Rights Watch investigation, non-citizens who have resided in the United States for decades, including lawful permanent residents (those with “green cards”), have been summarily removed from the country for criminal behavior, including minor offenses. Deportations take place once a non-citizen has completed his or her sentence.

Criminal Convictions May Lead to Deportation for Non-Citizens

Even minor criminal convictions can result in deportation for undocumented immigrants and foreign nationals living in the United States. Because a criminal conviction can carry such severe consequences, non-citizens should never take a police encounter lightly.

Prior to trial or deportation, the foreign national may be kept in a detention center. The case is then considered by an Immigration Court of the US Department of Justice (DOJ). 

If a judge orders deportation, the recipient country must agree to accept the individual being deported and grant travel documentation before the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) may carry out the order.

Although some removals may involve a combination of air and ground transportation, most  are carried out by air at the expense of the US government.

Non-Citizens and Criminal Law

When a citizen is convicted of a crime, they may face fines, incarceration, probation, parole, and community service, among other things. In addition to all of these sanctions, non-citizens also may face immigration issues that could lead to deportation.

Who is at risk of deportation as a result of criminal convictions? After being convicted of a felony, any non-citizen resident could be deported from the United States. Non-citizens include undocumented immigrants, foreign nationals (such as overseas students studying at US institutions), and green card holders , also known as “permanent residence status.” In a nutshell, everyone who was not born or naturalized in the United States is a non-citizen.

While all non-citizens may face deportation depending on their offense, their immigration status might influence how easy or difficult the procedure is. Undocumented immigrants, for example, fear deportation for minor crimes, whereas permanent citizens do not. Keep in mind that while a permanent resident may not be deported for committing certain minor offenses, a conviction could jeopardize any future immigration status upgrades, such as becoming a citizen through naturalization.

What Are the Different Types of Crimes That Can Lead to Deportation? 

When a non-citizen is convicted of a crime, immigration law becomes even more complicated. For example, individuals who are convicted of an aggravated felony or a violation of moral turpitude face deportation.

In the context of immigration law, the term aggravated felony is actually misleading because it includes more than only felony offenses. Some misdemeanors are included. An aggravated felony is defined as a violent or theft offense that leads to a jail sentence of more than a year. Tax fraud, sexual abuse of a minor, contempt of court (failure to appear), drug or firearm trafficking, racketeering, gambling, fraud, smuggling illegal immigrants, conspiracy, and other crimes fall into this category.

Moral turpitude crimes are those that society has deemed morally reprehensible. Deportation may occur if a non-citizen is convicted of a felony in this category within five years of entering the country and is not eligible for relief from removal. Child abuse, tax evasion, fraud, and perjury are examples of these crimes.

Aside from serious felonies and crimes of moral turpitude, there are a number of other crimes for which you may be deported if convicted. Violations of state or federal drug laws, threats to politicians or officeholders, treason, and domestic violence are among them.

As there are so many offenses for which a conviction might result in deportation, you should get legal assistance if you are facing charges. To consult with our Criminal defense lawyers for Non-Citizens or divorce representation, Contact our experienced Concord, New Hampshire defense attorneys for a consultation and help getting answers to your questions. Non-citizens facing criminal charges should also strongly consider retaining an immigration lawyer. We have several we can recommend if you do not already have one.


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