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How not to be deported with a criminal conviction

Updated: Aug 10, 2022

August 6, 2022 -

If you don’t have legal status in this country, you will be deported if you get caught breaking the law. However, the stakes are even higher if you are a lawful permanent resident. Aside from any prison sentence, you can also be deported for certain types of crimes. Imagine you and your family have gone through the process of getting your green card. You’ve spent money, time, and effort in securing your families future in the United States. And then, unfortunately, you have a run in with the law. The crime could be something as simple as a misdemeanor shoplifting. For immigration purposes being convicted of a felony or misdemeanor could have the same outcome, deportation.

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) defines a conviction as having occurred when two conditions are satisfied:

1) A judge or jury has found the non-citizen guilty, or the non-citizen has entered a plea of guilty or nolo contendere or has admitted sufficient facts to warrant a finding of guilt.

2) The judge has ordered some form of punishment, penalty, or restraint on the non-citizen’s liberty to be imposed.

One thing that the government looks at is if the crime committed is an aggravated felony. The definition of an aggravated felony for immigration purposes is much different from what we consider as an aggravated felony in the criminal sense of the word.

An aggravated felony for immigration purposes and an aggravated felony for a United States citizen are two completely different things. For a United States citizen, it is just that, a felony, and it’s aggravating, a violent crime which place someone’s life in danger. But for a non-citizen, an aggravated felony could be a misdemeanor. Something as non-violent and non-aggravated as shoplifting.

If you have been convicted of a crime, it is important to talk to a crimmigration lawyer about your options as they can significantly enhance your chances of avoiding deportation. You need someone familiar with immigration consequences of criminal convictions. A crimmigration lawyer can help you figure out if you are at risk of being deported and what steps you can take to avoid it.

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