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What Rights Do Immigrants Have When Facing Criminal Charges?

Posted on in Immigration

NC immigration lawyerA criminal conviction in the U.S. can have serious consequences for the status of a lawful permanent resident, temporary visa holder, or undocumented immigrant. In many cases, it is grounds for removal or deportation. Immigrants are often unsure of their rights if they are arrested on criminal charges, and as a result, they fail to exercise them. If you are aware of your rights, you may be able to achieve a better outcome in your case.

Are Immigrants Protected by the U.S. Constitution?

Many of the rights afforded to criminal defendants in the U.S. are described in the Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution. These rights apply not just to U.S. citizens, but anyone who is charged with a crime for which the U.S. has jurisdiction, including both lawful and undocumented immigrants.

For example, immigrants, like citizens, are protected from unreasonable search and seizure of their property and person by the Fourth Amendment, as well as from self-incrimination by the Fifth Amendment. This means you are not required to consent to a search by an officer without a warrant, and if the officer proceeds, any resulting evidence may be inadmissible in a criminal case. You are also not required to answer an officer’s questions, aside from identifying yourself, and in many cases, the officer will notify you of your right to remain silent upon your arrest.

Immigrants facing criminal charges are also entitled to legal counsel and a trial by jury. If you cannot afford an attorney, the court will appoint a public defender. However, hiring your own attorney is often beneficial if you have the means. This allows you to choose a lawyer you trust and who has experience with both criminal and immigration law. Your attorney will consult with you before your trial, be present for police questioning, and represent you in court.

A Criminal Trial is Not the Same as an Immigration Trial

You should note that the rights mentioned apply to a wide range of criminal cases, including those involving charges of DWI, drug possession, theft, and violent crimes. However, they do not apply in deportation or removal cases, which are usually not considered criminal proceedings. If you are arrested and detained by ICE under suspicion of your unlawful presence in the U.S., you are not guaranteed an attorney or a jury trial. Asserting that you want to hire an attorney gives you the best chance of protecting your rights throughout this legal process.

Contact a Raleigh Immigration Attorney

Criminal and immigration proceedings are often closely connected, and you could even find yourself facing criminal conviction and deportation at the same time. At Vasquez Law Firm, PLLC, we are strong advocates for both documented and undocumented immigrants, and we also have substantial experience defending clients in criminal cases. To learn how we can help with your case, contact our Wake County immigration lawyers at 919-533-7000 or 844-967-3536 and request a free consultation. Hablamos español.

 

Sources:

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/what-constitutional-rights-do-undocumented-immigrants-have

https://billofrightsinstitute.org/primary-sources/bill-of-rights

https://www.aclu.org/other/backgrounder-ice-detainers-and-fourth-amendment-what-do-recent-federal-court-decisions-mean

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