If you are a non-citizen in the United States, you must be extra careful to obey the law. If you wind up facing criminal charges, you can face not only criminal penalties, but you may also wind up in removal proceedings or unilaterally deemed deportable. Knowing the relationship between criminal law and immigration law may save you time and trouble, depending on the nature of your case.
An aggravated felony used to mean a very specific couple of offenses, but the list has expanded over the years. At this point, it may be easier to define what is not an aggravated felony, rather than what is one. The general rule is that an aggravated felony is a criminal offense that involves dishonesty or fraud, but in reality, almost every crime under the sun can be an aggravated felony depending on the situation.
If you have been convicted of a crime, it does not need to be a felony for it to carry immigration consequences. Misdemeanors can be aggravated felonies under immigration law, because in that case the word ‘felony’ is used to illustrate that it is a serious offense. However, this word choice confuses many plaintiffs every day. Being convicted of an aggravated felony essentially bars you from claiming any type of immigration relief, though it should be noted that there are exceptions.
Crimes of Moral Turpitude
Crimes of moral turpitude (CIMTs), unlike aggravated felonies, are a bit more strictly defined, and intent matters. With an aggravated felony, the only thing that matters is whether or not the crime occurred. Generally, there needs to be intent to cause great bodily harm for the act to count as a CIMT, and examples include rape, assault, battery, kidnapping, and the like.
The immigration consequences for CIMTs are somewhat more complex, as well. While aggravated felonies will bar you from immigration relief in most respects, CIMTs must fall into one of two fact patterns. You must either have been convicted of one CIMT within the first five years after admission that carries a sentence of one year or more, or you must have been convicted of two arising out of the same scheme at any point after admission. For example, if a man kidnaps a woman and sexually assaults her, he is guilty of two CIMTs—kidnapping and rape—that are part of the same scheme or criminal enterprise. As such, he will be declared deportable if found guilty.
Contact a Deportation Attorney
Navigating the criminal law system can be difficult and scary even for U.S. citizens, and for those who are foreign nationals, it can be even more confusing. The experienced Chicago deportation defense lawyers at Mevorah Law Offices LLC can help get you through. Call us today or complete our web form to set up a free consultation.
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