Law Offices of Jan Joseph Bejar A P.L.C.
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Crime and immigration: What you need to know

Criminal convictions are a big problem these days for immigrants -- even those who are here legally.

In the past, immigration authorities were generally only concerned about serious felonies, like assault or murder, and crimes with moral or ethical implications like fraud or drug dealing.

Today, however, the national mood toward immigration has shifted and authorities are taking virtually any criminal conviction as an opportunity to strip people of their green card status and deport them.

In addition, immigration has its own unique way of looking at charges. What may be only a misdemeanor under a state's criminal code can be considered an "aggravated felony" for the purposes of immigration. There are things immigration considers an offense even though they don't involve a criminal charge.

Included in the list of things that are viewed as serious offenses by immigration are things like:

  • Filing a false tax return (which is particularly problematic for people working under a false Social Security number)
  • Failing to file a tax return altogether
  • Simple theft, which can include shoplifting
  • A consensual sexual encounter between someone who is 16 years old and someone who is 17 years old
  • Simple battery, which means anyone who ever gets into a fight
  • Having a bench warrant issued because of a failure to show up for a court appearance
  • Having a concealed weapon
  • Perjury in court

While immigration is supposed to take the totality of your circumstances before penalizing, the odds are high that any offense can open you up to deportation. Even worse, you may be barred from returning to the United States permanently.

If you're an immigrant who has been accused of a criminal offense, make no mistake: You also need to be concerned about deportation and removal. Make sure that you consult the right legal professional about your situation so that you know what options are available to you.

Source: FindLaw, "How Does a Felony Affect Immigration Status?," accessed March 16, 2018

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