Crimes That Make You Deportable

By: Dennis E. Chua, Esq.

Any alien who has been convicted of a crime runs the risk of being deported or removed from the United States. Legal permanent residents who have been convicted of a crime may be included as those who may be removed or deported.

The Immigration and Nationality Act enumerates the types of criminal offenses which would render a person removable or deportable. Among the criminal offenses listed are as follows:
  1. A person who has been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude within 5 years after the date of admission. A crime of moral turpitude refers to "conduct that is considered contrary to community standards of justice, honesty or good morals." Some examples of crime of moral turpitude include arson, embezzlement, grand theft, assault with a deadly weapon, manslaughter;

  2. A person who has been convicted of a crime for which a sentence of one year or longer may be imposed;

  3. A person who at any time after admission is convicted of two or more crimes involving moral turpitude;

  4. A person who is convicted of an aggravated felony at any time after conviction. Aggravated felony is a category of crimes that include murder, rape, sexual abuse of a minor;

  5. A person who is convicted of a crime relating to high speed flight from an immigration checkpoint;

  6. A person who has failed to register as a sex offender;

  7. A person who at any time has been convicted of a violation of any law relating to a controlled substance (drug offenses);

  8. A person who is a drug abuser or addict;

  9. A person who has been convicted of a crime of domestic violence, a crime of stalking, or a crime of child abuse, child neglect or child abandonment.
An alien including legal permanent residents who have been convicted and who have served their sentence as a result of the criminal conviction will have to pass through the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement before they are released. If such alien is removable or deportable, an immigration hold will be issued, and the person will be detained for the immigration violation. Bail may be posted to secure the temporary release of such person from immigration detention.

The person shall then be put in removal proceedings with the issuance of the corresponding Notice to Appear. The Notice shall inform the person of his immigration violation and why he or she is being removed from the United States.

Depending on the type of criminal offense committed, a person may be eligible to file for a waiver to prevent removal or deportation in Immigration Court. A grant of a full and unconditional pardon by the President of the United States or by the Governor of any of the several states may also prevent the removal or deportation of a person for certain criminal offenses.

In order to avoid the harsh consequences of removal as a result of a criminal conviction, it would be best that once criminal charges have been filed, a person immediately consult with an immigration practitioner regarding the immigration consequences of a criminal offense.

Atty. Dennis E. Chua is a partner in The Law Firm of Chua Tinsay and Vega (CTV) - a full service law firm with offices in San Francisco, San Diego and Manila. The information presented in this article is for general information only and is not, nor intended to be, formal legal advice nor the formation of an attorney-client relationship. The CTV attorneys will be holding regular free legal clinics at the Max's Restaurant in Vallejo, California. Call or e-mail CTV for an in-person or phone consultation to discuss your particular situation and/or how their services may be retained at (415) 495-8088; (619) 955-6277;
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