Immigration Consequences of a Criminal Conviction

The consequences of a criminal conviction can be severe for anyone. But if you are a U.S. immigrant, the results can have more far-reaching consequences that can be devastating. An immigrant who is convicted of a crime faces the possibility of having their application for naturalization denied, being excluded from admission to the United States, or even being deported.

If you are a U.S. immigrant and have been charged with a crime, you need to work with a criminal defense team that understands and can advise you about the potential immigration consequences of a criminal conviction and knows how to protect your immigration status.

Kentucky v. Padilla: A Criminal Defense Lawyer Must Advise Clients of the Immigration Consequences of a Conviction

In the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court case of Kentucky v. Padilla, the Court ruled that criminal defense lawyers must advise their clients of the potential immigration consequences of a criminal conviction. Failure to advise a client on the immigration consequences of a criminal conviction could constitute ineffective assistance of counsel under the Sixth Amendment.

Jose Padilla was a veteran of the Vietnam War who had lived in the United States for more than 40 years. He pled guilty to charges of trafficking marijuana after his lawyer told him the guilty plea would not impact his immigration status. But at that time, drug trafficking was considered an aggravated felony, and a conviction could result in the deportation of a lawful permanent resident. The Court ruled that the actions of Padilla’s lawyer were “constitutionally deficient, in violation of the Sixth Amendment” because the effects of deportation are so severe that they cannot be classified as a “collateral consequence.”

Since the Court’s decision in Padilla, an immigrant defendant can seek postconviction relief on the basis of ineffective assistance of counsel if their lawyer fails to advise them of the immigration consequences of a guilty plea. The defendant can ask the court to vacate the judgment and allow the defendant to plead not guilty, seek a modified sentence, or request a new trial.

Crimes That Can Impact Immigration Status

Under U.S. immigration law, certain categories of crimes carry specific immigration consequences, including denial of a green card, denial of U.S. citizenship, or deportation.

Aggravated Felonies

Section 101(a)(43) of the Immigration and Nationality Act states that a conviction for an aggravated felony can lead to mandatory deportation. Aggravated felonies include:

  • Rape
  • Murder
  • Sexual abuse of a minor
  • Drug trafficking
  • Firearms trafficking
  • Kidnapping
  • Felony theft
  • Child pornography
  • Money laundering in excess of $10,000
  • Fraud or tax evasion in excess of $10,000

Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude (CIMT)

Crimes of moral turpitude involve acts that gravely violate community standards. They include crimes like murder, rape, arson, aggravated manslaughter, theft, forgery, and fraud. A conviction for a crime of moral turpitude can negatively affect your immigration status.

Controlled Substances Crimes

A conviction for certain drug crimes can affect a defendant’s immigration status.

Other Crimes with Immigration Consequences

Other crimes that can have immigration consequences include:

  • Crimes against children
  • Crimes of domestic violence
  • Firearm offenses
  • Crimes involving prostitution and commercialized vice

Just Criminal Law Protects Your One Shot at Justice

Being charged with a crime can have devastating consequences for anyone. But if you are an immigrant facing criminal charges, the consequences of a criminal conviction can be especially severe. To protect yourself and preserve your immigration status, you need to work with an experienced criminal defense team that will protect your rights and help you understand the potential immigration consequences of a criminal charge.

Just Criminal Law is based in Gillette, Wyoming, and proudly represents people accused of crimes in eastern Wyoming and western South Dakota. To learn more, contact us today to schedule your personalized case review and strategy session.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is offered for educational purposes only. This information is not offered as legal advice. A person accused of a crime should always consult with an attorney before making decisions that have legal consequences.