The immigration laws are complicated, no matter where in the country you live. In New York City, as in the rest of the country, there are certain rules that allow the government to deport an immigrant who has committed certain crimes. However, since not all violations of the law will result in deportation, it’s important to have a clearer picture of the deportation laws from an immigrant’s perspective. By learning these facts of law, you’ll be better equipped to avoid those circumstances which can result in a criminal deportation.
Crimes of Moral Turpitude Can Result in Deportation
When it comes to criminal deportation, committing what the government calls “crimes of moral turpitude” are a major reason many immigrants get deported. In order to avoid those consequences, it’s important to understand exactly what is meant by “crimes of moral turpitude” under the law. While the country’s immigration laws don’t specifically define what is meant by this term, the U.S. Department of State has set out some guidelines to provide a general understanding.
Specifically, the guidelines set forth by the Department of State declare that any acts that involve “fraud, larceny, and intent to harm persons or things” are to be considered crimes of moral turpitude. In more general terms, any crime that includes theft or acts of dishonesty will fall into this category. Other crimes that are often included under this heading are acts of assault, where the intent is to rob or kill a victim. Acts of domestic violence and abuse, as well as aggravated driving under the influence, are also commonly viewed as crimes of moral turpitude.
While this suggests that there are many offenses that can be considered crimes of moral turpitude, the laws do allow for exemptions from this classification. In cases where the crimes committed can be classified as petty offenses, the acts may be excused as crimes of moral turpitude. For this purpose, a petty offense is considered any crime that couldn’t carry a penalty of more than one year of imprisonment. Additionally, the individual must not have served more than six months in prison.
Examples of petty crimes include shoplifting and simple assault. Also, some DUI cases may be classified as petty, where the incident didn’t also include driving without a license and where there wasn’t property damage or injuries to other parties.
Just because you may have committed a crime of moral turpitude, that doesn’t automatically put you into the deportation process. There are extenuating circumstances that will determine how your case is to be handled in terms of your immigration status. You may be subject to removal or deportation, where you have been in the country for five years or less. Additionally, you will likely be subject to deportation, if you have committed two or more separate crimes of moral turpitude. This means those crimes were not stemming from the same incident or as the result of a single scheme for criminal enterprise.
Aggravated Felonies and Other Crimes
Even in cases where you may not have committed an act that’s considered to be a crime of moral turpitude, there are other offenses that may result in deportation proceedings. For instance, any crime considered to be an aggravated felony will likely result in the removal process. The exact crimes is extensive and they are listed under Immigration and Nationality Act at I.N.A. § 101(a)(43). Some of the more commonly committed crimes under this category are murder, rape, the trafficking of drugs or weapons, the sexual abuse or assault of a minor, and money laundering. In general, any violent crime that carries a penalty of more than one year in prison can be considered an aggravated felony.
Unlike crimes of moral turpitude, aggravated felonies almost always result in criminal deportation without exception. The only possibility to avoid this consequence is being able to show that returning you to your native country would result in your torture. In any case, individuals deported for committing an aggravated felony will not be granted a waiver to return to the United States.
There are still other crimes that can result in deportation, when committed by an immigrant. While the extensive list is supplied under Section 237 of the Immigration and Naturalization Act, it should be noticed that crimes of moral turpitude and those acts considered aggravated felonies may overlap. Some of these crimes include the sale or possession of illegal drugs, espionage, acts of terrorism, human trafficking, and child abuse or neglect.
If you have been charged with a crime and you are an immigrant, the first thing you should do is to contact an attorney who specializes in immigration law. An experienced legal advocate can help you determine your risk of deportation and may be able to take steps to help you prevent it. An experienced lawyer is your chance of defending yourself in court, regardless of your citizenship status.