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Raleigh immigration and criminal defense lawyerThe short answer is maybe. In some cases, a criminal conviction can lead to deportation. In other cases, you may be allowed to serve any sentence you are given and remain in the country. The end result depends on several factors, including which crime you are convicted of. If you are not a U.S. citizen at the moment and get charged with a crime, it is very important that you contact an attorney who understands both criminal defense and immigration law. There is too much at stake for you to take any chances with your future in this country. Once you are convicted, the immigration court is likely to take that conviction at face value even if you later have grounds for getting it expunged or otherwise done away with. 

Which Crimes Can Lead to Deportation?

Minor misdemeanors usually do not trigger deportation proceedings, but some more serious misdemeanors can. The line between a deportable offense and a non-deportable offense is not the line between misdemeanors and felonies. Instead, the standard is that “crimes of moral turpitude” can get you deported even if you are here legally. This is not always a very well-defined standard, but it typically encompasses crimes that include some element of dishonesty or suggest that you are a danger to others. Additionally, some aggravated felonies will automatically trigger deportation.

Crimes that can lead to deportation include, but are certainly not limited to: 

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What Is a Crime of Moral Turpitude?

Posted on in Immigration

shutterstock_1072282619-1-min.jpgA criminal conviction can have tremendous immigration consequences. However, these consequences are largely determined by the nature of the crime, and whether the offense can be classified as a crime of moral turpitude.

From the perspective of the U.S. Government, crimes of moral turpitude raise serious questions about the convicted person’s personal character and their desirability as foreign residents. Thus, a conviction often has serious implications for an immigrant’s ability to remain in the country or obtain a more permanent status.

When Is an Offense Considered a Crime of Moral Turpitude?

There is no statute delineating what is or is not a crime of moral turpitude. Defining the term has often been left up to the courts, which have historically considered the defendant’s intent and the recklessness of their behavior in their determination.

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north carolina immigration lawyerA conviction for driving while impaired (DWI) has serious consequences, no matter the circumstances. However, the ramifications are even greater when you are an undocumented immigrant or hold only a green card.

After a DWI conviction, a citizen might have questions about their financial situation if they face fines or their driving privileges if they face a license suspension. An immigrant, on the other hand, might have concerns about their ability to even remain in the country.

The uncertainty of the situation is magnified by the enigmatic complexity of the U.S. immigration system. Immigration law is filled with antiquated terminology and is notoriously fickle.

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NC immigration lawyerSince 2012, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which is commonly known as DACA, has allowed immigrants who came to the United States as children to remain in the country. However, these immigrants were dealt a major blow recently when a judge in Texas ruled that the DACA program is illegal. Immigrants will need to be sure to understand what this ruling means for them and whether they have options for avoiding deportation.

Effects of the Ruling

The DACA program was put in place by President Barack Obama in 2012, and it applied to immigrants who entered the United States before reaching the age of 16, have lived in the U.S. since 2007, and do not have a lawful immigration status. Those who met the requirements of the program could receive a deferral of any deportation actions for two years, and they would have authorization to work during this time. A person could also apply for renewals and receive additional two-year extensions to their deferral period.

On July 16, 2021, a federal judge in the Southern District of Texas issued a ruling stating that the DACA program is illegal, and a permanent injunction was put in place prohibiting the government from continuing the program. This injunction applies to any new DACA applications, and deferral cannot be granted for any applications received by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) after the date of the ruling. The federal government has stated that it intends to appeal this ruling. New DACA applications may be submitted, but deferrals or employment authorization cannot be granted to those who had not previously received DACA protections.

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NC immigration lawyerIf you have come to the U.S. as an immigrant, you may be unsure as to whether you should take the additional steps necessary to become a U.S. citizen. Perhaps you still strongly identify with your native country, or you have heard that the naturalization process can be difficult. Or, perhaps you feel that your status as a lawful permanent resident is sufficient. However, there are many important benefits that are only available to immigrants after they attain citizenship. You may want to seriously consider these benefits and whether they can make a meaningful difference for you and your family.

Rights and Benefits of U.S. Citizenship

When you become a naturalized U.S. citizen, you secure many different rights and benefits. Some of the most notable include:

  • Voting rights - U.S. citizenship is required in order to vote in any federal elections, including elections for President and U.S. Senators and Representatives. Many state and local elections also require voters to be U.S. citizens. Gaining citizenship allows you to exercise your voting rights and have a say in important issues that affect you and your community.
  • Elimination of travel restrictions - Lawful permanent residents can delay their eligibility for citizenship or lose their legal immigrant status altogether if they spend too much time traveling or living outside of the U.S. After becoming a citizen, these restrictions no longer apply, meaning you are free to visit family outside of the U.S. without incurring unexpected consequences. As a U.S. citizen, you are also eligible for a U.S. passport, which can help you travel internationally with fewer restrictions.
  • Protection from deportation - Even lawful permanent residents can be at risk of removal if their Green Card expires or they are convicted of a serious criminal offense. While citizens are of course still subject to state and federal criminal laws, they cannot be deported in connection with a crime.
  • Family visa benefits - Compared to lawful permanent residents, U.S. citizens generally have a higher priority when petitioning for a family visa. After becoming a citizen, you can more easily arrange for the immigration of your spouse, children, parents, and even your siblings and their families.

While becoming a naturalized citizen can be challenging, it may be well worth it. An immigration attorney can help you understand your eligibility to apply and guide you through the process.

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