Not all crimes make you deportable, but many do. Determining whether your conviction will cause you to be deported can be a complex question – one that can affect your immigration status, your family, and potentially the rest of your life.
How do you determine whether a criminal conviction will make you deportable? Whether you are a non-citizen facing criminal charges or you have been convicted of criminal charges and need help avoiding deportation, the Myrtle Beach immigration attorneys at Coastal Law want to help you – call us now for a free consultation and case review.
Crimes of Moral Turpitude and Aggravated Felonies are Deportable Offenses
8 USC Section 1227 contains a list of the circumstances and criminal convictions that can make you deportable, including crimes of moral turpitude, aggravated felonies, and domestic violence.
What is a Crime of Moral Turpitude?
Any non-citizen who is convicted of a crime of moral turpitude that carries a potential sentence of one year or more, within five years of their entry into the United States, is subject to deportation.
Two or more convictions for crimes of moral turpitude will make you deportable, regardless of the potential sentence or amount of time that has passed since you entered the country.
But what is a crime of moral turpitude?
There is no single definition of moral turpitude for purposes of immigration law, which leaves room for interpretation and argument, at least for some offenses. The appellate courts have said that crimes of moral turpitude:
- Shock the public conscience;
- Are inherently base, vile, and depraved;
- Are contrary to the rules of morality;
- Are morally reprehensible and intrinsically wrong;
- Require an evil intent; or
- Require reckless conduct.
Although this is by no means an exhaustive list, crimes of moral turpitude that can result in deportation include:
- Murder and some types of manslaughter;
- Other violent offenses like robbery, kidnapping, rape, and aggravated assaults;
- Crimes of dishonesty like theft or fraud; and
- Domestic crimes like spousal abuse, child abuse, and incest.
What is an Aggravated Felony in Immigration Court?
A criminal conviction does not have to be “aggravated” or a “felony” to be considered an “aggravated felony” for purposes of immigration law – an “aggravated felony” is what Congress says it is…
The definition of aggravated felony was originally strictly limited, including only a few offenses like murder, drug trafficking, or firearms trafficking. Congress has greatly expanded the list over time, however, classifying some relatively minor offenses as “aggravated felonies.” The current list includes:
- Some forms of assault and battery;
- Child pornography;
- Sexual abuse of a child;
- Money laundering;
- Tax evasion;
- Bribery, counterfeiting, forgery, and fraud charges;
- Failure to appear in court – if it was for a felony charge that carries a potential sentence of two years or more; and
- Obstruction of justice or perjury if the potential sentence was one year or more.
This is not a complete list – if you are not sure whether your criminal charges or conviction qualifies as an “aggravated felony” for immigration purposes, contact an experienced immigration attorney as soon as possible to help you determine whether you are subject to deportation and what your next steps should be.
What are the Immigration Consequences of an Aggravated Felony Conviction?
A conviction for an “aggravated felony” will make you deportable, but has other, potentially more serious consequences such as:
- Deportation without a removal hearing: if you are a non-citizen who is not a lawful permanent resident (green card holder), you may be deported without a formal hearing following your criminal conviction;
- Ineligibility for cancellation of removal or waivers of inadmissibility: in some cases, immigration judges have discretion to permit a deportable immigrant to remain in the United States or to permit an immigrant to enter the United States, such as when deportation would create an “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” to a US citizen or permanent resident who is a family member. This is not available to a person who has been convicted of an aggravated felony;
- Ineligibility for asylum: an immigrant who has been convicted for an aggravated felony is not eligible for asylum, regardless of their situation in their home country;
- Ineligibility for voluntary departure: a person who has been convicted of an aggravated felony cannot be given the option of leaving the country at their own expense – they must be formally deported with an order of removal;
- Permanent inadmissibility: a person who has been deported based on a conviction for an aggravated felony cannot lawfully reenter the United States unless they receive a waiver from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS); and
- Increased penalties for reentry: if a person is convicted for illegal reentry after deportation based on a conviction for an aggravated felony, they are subject to a potential sentence of 20 years in prison instead of a maximum of two years.
What Other Crimes Make You Deportable?
Some crimes are specifically listed in 8 USC 1227, while others are determined by whether they fall within one of the listed categories like crimes of moral turpitude or aggravated felonies.
Other specific crimes that make you deportable or will prevent entry into the United States include:
- A conviction for fleeing from an immigration checkpoint;
- Failure to register as a sex offender under federal law;
- Firearm offenses under state or federal law;
- Espionage, sabotage, treason, sedition, or terrorist activities;
- Domestic violence, stalking, child abuse, or violation of a protection order;
- Human trafficking;
- Falsifying immigration documents or failing to register as a foreign agent;
- Falsely claiming citizenship to receive a benefit under any state or federal law;
- Drug offenses: any conviction for a drug offense other than simple possession of marijuana is a deportable offense; and
- Drug abuse: although it is not a crime to use drugs in the United States or to be an addict, a drug abuser or drug addict is deportable.
If you don’t see your criminal conviction listed in this article, that does not mean your conviction doesn’t make you deportable – get advice asap from a Myrtle Beach immigration lawyer who can review your situation and help you with your criminal case, deportation proceedings, citizenship application, or visa application.
SC Immigration Lawyers in Myrtle Beach, SC
The Myrtle Beach immigration attorneys at Coastal Law can help you to fight deportation proceedings, apply for citizenship, or apply for a green card or immigration visa.
If you are facing deportation and need an immigration attorney in SC, Call now for a free consultation to discuss your case, by calling (843) 488-5000 or contacting us through our website.