Deportation for Criminal Offenses
Facing criminal charges is a highly stressful and even frightening experience for anyone. A conviction can mean time in jail, costly fines, probation, and a mark on your permanent record. There are also many potential collateral consequences of a criminal conviction, including restrictions on employment, ineligibility for federal student aid, loss of a professional license, and more. One particularly severe collateral consequence of certain criminal convictions can be deportation proceedings initiated against foreign nationals. Under federal immigration laws, ICE can take custody of immigrants convicted of crimes set out in the law and can have them removed from the U.S., even if they are lawfully present in the country at the time. Often, the possibility of deportation is more frightening than the prospect of time behind bars.
Because of the potentially dire consequences of criminal convictions for non-citizens, it is critical to have an experienced crimmigration attorney handling your case who thoroughly understands potential immigration implications. Whether you are facing charges or are a criminal defense attorney who needs assistance with a case, a crimmigration lawyer will evaluate how to best approach a defense to prevent deportation.
What are Deportable Offenses?
Federal immigration laws discuss a wide variety of criminal offenses for which a foreign national can be deported. The following are some examples of such offenses:
- Drug-related offenses, except personal possession of smaller amounts of marijuana.
- Unlawful possession of a handgun or other firearms offenses.
- Domestic violence offenses, including child abuse or neglect, stalking, or violating an order of protection.
- Crimes of moral turpitude, which are not strictly defined by law but often include sexual offenses, theft, or other offenses that may demonstrate immoral character.
- Aggravated felonies, which can include drug trafficking, homicide, fraud or financial crimes involving more than $10,000, child pornography, engaging in the prostitution business, human trafficking, among many others.
Criminal Defense to Avoid Deportation
The criminal defense of individuals who face possible deportation should be approached with extreme care and using specific strategies with the potential immigration consequences always in mind. The following are some defense strategies that can be helpful in such cases.
Avoid conviction – Of course, avoiding conviction altogether is always the best outcome of a criminal case, but it is especially preferable to avoid a conviction for criminal offenses resulting in deportation. An experienced defense attorney should always identify and present all possible legal defenses to aggressively try to get charges dismissed. If a defendant has been wrongfully accused and a prosecutor refuses to drop the charges, it may be the right choice to take the case to trial to fight against wrongful conviction. However, trial is always a risk and this decision should be carefully weighed while considering the deportation possibility.
Negotiate a plea deal with immigration in mind – In many cases, a prosecutor may amend a charge down to a lesser offense in exchange for a guilty plea. Deportation is based on the agreed conviction and not on the original charge. Therefore, if an attorney can negotiate a plea agreement for a non-deportable offense or eliminate certain elements of the crime from the plea agreement, an immigrant may avoid deportation. Additionally, many offenses are only considered to be aggravated felonies, crimes of moral turpitude, or otherwise deportable crimes, if they are severe enough to carry a certain sentence, or require a significant amount of restitution. If you can negotiate a lesser sentence or restitution amount, deportation may be avoided.
Post-conviction relief – If you have already been convicted, it is possible for a crimmigration attorney to appeal and seek post-conviction relief to have your conviction set aside. Though prosecutors may refile charges, you can then approach your case with immigration consequences in mind.
Call for a Consultation with a Qualified NJ Crimmigration Lawyer Today
If you are a foreign national who has been charged with a crime or you are a criminal defense attorney with a client who is an immigrant, highly experienced crimmigration attorney Ronald Mondello can help you. Mr. Mondello has handled many cases involving both criminal and immigration matters and understands how to categorically analyze your case to help take the best approach in both your criminal defense and your immigration case, if needed. If a criminal defense is not properly handled with immigration consequences in mind, you could find yourself facing deportation and future inadmissibility to the United States. For these reasons and more, it is in your best interests to consult with the law office of Ronald P. Mondello, Esq. Attorney at Law as soon as possible.