The immigration system can be difficult to navigate. It is more difficult when you have criminal charges. Immigration is currently under the jurisdiction of the Office of Homeland Security. The agency performs a thorough background check on applicants. This includes those applying to come to the U.S. or for a Green Card. Applicants must provide fingerprints and past convictions are revealed. Convictions and charges for certain crimes trigger deportation proceedings. Here’s a guide to criminal charges and immigration.

Criminal Charges

Criminal Charges

The law is specific as to what charges are grounds for deportation. The accused need to find a website for an attorney. Attorneys can file papers to fight deportation proceedings. Further, attorneys will fight to get the criminal charges dismissed. However, officials think certain charges, even if dropped, equate to immorality. Never go to criminal court without an attorney. The attorney knows what actions may result in deportation.

Charges That Affect Immigration

Being accused or convicted of a Crime of Moral Turpitude affects immigration status. Crimes of moral turpitude are also known as CMTs. CMTs include a wide variety of criminal charges from shoplifting to prostitution to murder. Courts have argued about the definition of moral turpitude for years. Basically, the crimes are defined as those that shock the “public conscience as a base, vile and depraved.”

Aggravated Felonies

Convictions for aggravated felonies affect immigration proceedings in many ways. Aggravated felonies include:

  • Murder
  • child pornography
  • Rape
  • drug trafficking
  • fraud or tax evasion

Individuals convicted of aggravated felonies are ineligible for asylum. Additionally, they cannot receive a U.S. Visa, Green Card, or U.S. citizenship. Moreover, deportation proceedings begin immediately for convicted non-citizens. Anyone deported for a conviction is permanently banned from returning to the U.S.

Driving Under The Influence (DUI)

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One DUI conviction will not block someone from becoming a citizen. However, more than one DUI and aggravating factors may hinder the process. Aggravating factors include injuring someone or driving with a suspended license. Further, anyone with a DUI conviction faces deportation if convicted of a more serious crime.

Juvenile Offenses

Deportation proceedings can be filed for behavior alone. That’s how many juveniles lose their ability to become citizens. A Juvenile court judge decides if the accused is delinquent or not. Delinquency proceedings based on criminal activity such as selling drugs may disrupt the citizenship process.

Taking A Plea And Expungement

First offender programs and nolo pleas may affect an immigrant’s status. For instance, guilt is not adjudicated when someone pleads nolo. Nonetheless, the agency looks at the plea as admitting guilt. The same goes for first offender dispositions. In these cases, the defendant completes a program and the criminal charges are later dropped.

Many jurisdictions allow former defendants to file for expungement. The criminal conviction can be wiped from the record after a number of years. Expungements don’t help in immigration cases. The applicant is still viewed as having a conviction.

Vacated Criminal Convictions

criminal defense attorney

An appeals court may decide to vacate or put aside a criminal conviction. This often occurs when proceedings are ruled to be unconstitutional. An attorney has a good chance of stopping deportation proceedings if a sentence is vacated.

Applicants need to ask themselves whether they want to become a citizen. The best way to accomplish this is to avoid criminal activity. Applicants charged with a crime should hire an attorney with trial experience.