If you’re an immigrant in the United States and are charged with a crime, it’s particularly important to understand how your actions following your arrest could affect your immigration status. Legal advice that applies to a U.S. citizen may not serve your best interests.
In this post, we examine some core facts that immigrants facing criminal charges should understand.
If you are a non-citizen resident in the U.S., you could face deportation if you are convicted of any of the following:
- A crime of moral turpitude committed within five years of entering the country—within 10 years for immigrants with permanent resident status—for which you received a sentence of at least one year
- More than one crime of moral turpitude—committed at any time since your date of entry
- Aggravated felony
- High speed flight
- Failure to register as a sex offender
- Drug crimes
- Certain firearm offenses
- Domestic violence
- Human trafficking
What if I plead guilty?
If you’re facing criminal charges, the prosecution may try to coerce you into confessing. Some defense attorneys may even advise you to plead guilty without fully explaining the repercussions of this decision.
In many cases, pleading guilty can earn defendants a reduced sentence. However, it’s important to understand that in the eyes of the law, a guilty plea is seen as a conviction—even if your case never goes to trial. And if you’re an immigrant, a conviction that meets any of the above-listed criteria can get you deported.
It’s important to understand your rights as an immigrant and as a defendant. You need a lawyer who will be transparent with you about every action you take—and the positive and negative implications it could have for your future.