Convicted of Domestic Violence
Defending the Legal Rights of Non-Citizens Facing Deportation for a Domestic Violence Conviction
Domestic violence is taken extremely seriously by New Jersey authorities and can have serious legal consequences for the people involved. This is particularly true for people who are not U.S. citizens, as a conviction for domestic violence is specifically mentioned in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) as grounds for deportation. The law further defines a domestic violence offense as any crime of violence against a person committed by:
- A current or former spouse
- An individual with whom the person shares a child
- A person who currently or has in the past cohabitated with the person
- A person who is “similarly situated” to a spouse under the domestic violence laws of the jurisdiction in which the incident took place
- By any other person from whom an individual is protected by the domestic violence laws of his or her jurisdiction
In defining a crime of violence, the INA refers to 18 U.S.C. Section 16, which defines violence as an offense in which the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against a person or a person’s property is an element, or any felony that involves a substantial risk of force or the use of force may be used against a person or person’s property, by its nature.
Convicted of Stalking in New Jersey
The offense of stalking is also specifically mentioned in the federal statute as a deportable offense. While “stalking” may bring to mind the act of following someone around against his or her will, the offense, as defined by New Jersey law covers, a much broader range of conduct. Stalking is defined generally as a pattern of behavior that is intended to cause fear or apprehension. The kinds of conduct contemplated as stalking by the statutes include maintaining visual or physical proximity to a person directly, indirectly, through a third party, or through any type of device, as well as others.
In practical terms, the stalking statute is often used by prosecutors in situations in which an ex-spouse or ex-partner is harassing their estranged spouse or partner. Individuals who are convicted of the offense of stalking often are facing deportation, in addition to any criminal penalties that may be imposed.
A Child Abuse Conviction Can Result in Deportation
Another common form of domestic violence that can result in deportation is child abuse.
Violation of a Protective Order
Many situations of domestic strife that have not resulted in a crime of domestic violence are often handled by one party through a protective order. In addition, the resolution of some criminal matters may involve the court issuing a protective order against the defendant. These kinds of orders generally direct one party to stay away from another party and his or her family for a period of time, sometimes even a matter of years. The INA specifically indicates that non-citizens who violate protective orders are deportable.
Legal Defenses May be Available to Avoid Deportation
If you are a non-citizen that has been accused of a crime related to domestic violence or the violation of a protective order, is it is important to remember that an arrest does not always result in a conviction. Domestic disputes are often complicated situations in which it is not always clear to law enforcement who the aggressor was and, in many cases, their priority is simply to separate the parties from one another as quickly as possible. For this reason, there are many instances in which individuals are accused of crimes that they did not commit or there are valid legal defenses, such as self-defense, that justify their actions at the time.
Furthermore, in cases where a conviction is likely, an experienced New Jersey crimmigration attorney may be able to negotiate a plea arrangement with the prosecutor handling your case that may avoid any immigration consequences. In most plea agreements, the defendant agrees to plead guilty to a less serious offense than the one that was initially issued by the prosecutor. If the offense to which you plead guilty no longer is related to domestic violence, immigration penalties may not be imposed.
Call New Jersey Crimmigration Attorney Ronald P. Mondello Today to Schedule a Case Evaluation
Anyone that has been accused of a crime related to domestic violence should talk to an experienced lawyer as soon as possible, as a conviction could very easily result in deportation. In many cases, there are various legal defenses that may be available that could mitigate or even eliminate the possibility of immigration consequences. To schedule a consultation with New Jersey crimmigration lawyer Ronald P. Mondello, call our office today or send us an email through our online contact form.