As an immigrant living in the United States, facing criminal charges attracts harsh penalties. If you are in the process of applying for citizenship, your application may be considered void. The consequences for undocumented immigrants are even worse- going as far as deportation. If you are within either category, seeking legal representation should be your next step. You will need to find an excellent criminal defense attorney to inform you of possible actions and put you in the best position for favourable outcomes.
This article will help you understand the implications of getting arrested during your immigration process.
What can a criminal record do to my immigration status?
Here, it is essential to distinguish between getting arrested for a crime and getting convicted. While your arrest report is lodged with the police, certain decisions (such as revoking a visa or green card) are mostly not made without a conviction. An arrest may not automatically translate as having a criminal record. This is why it is essential to get an attorney immediately after arrest.
These are the primary ways a criminal record may impact Immigration
If you are declared inadmissible into the US, this will apply even if you have a green card. In the case where a crime was committed outside US soil, you will not be allowed re-entry.
This refers to being deportable and revokes immigration status. It applies even to people who have legal immigration status.
In cases where a family’s stay is based on the immigration status of the accused, their immigration status may also be in jeopardy.
Next Steps After a Criminal Charge
If you have been charged with a crime, consider the following factors to enable you to move forward with the best outcomes
- You will need a criminal defense attorney
Under distress, it is not uncommon to fold under pressure and accept a plea. However, it is in your favor to discuss with an attorney before this to advise you based on the possible deals. You may get fined or face a short sentence instead of getting deported. It is also essential to discuss any priors with your attorney as this can deface your trial.
- You may need an immigration attorney
Certain times, hidden immigration consequences come alongside criminal consequences, and the latter may be easier to bear than those on immigration. In such instances, it is in your best interest to get an immigration attorney alongside one for criminal defense. Seemingly minor cases like marijuana possession may be treated by law as an aggravated felony, which has more significant repercussions on immigration status.
- Arrested or Convicted?
As mentioned earlier, the stakes are different for arrests and convictions. An arrest is made on suspicion and probable cause, while convictions refer to when a person is proven to have committed a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. If you were acquitted, arrested, and put on probation or tried in a juvenile court, you most likely will have an easier deal with your immigration process. They may take a test of character and consider if you have had prior stints. While such instances come with pardons, it is still possible to be denied a citizenship application without being convicted of a crime.
Being caught on the wrong side of the law has dire consequences on immigration, but with a good criminal defense strategy, you can hope for fewer negatives. The law offices of Franks, Kelly, Matuszewich, and Andrle Attorneys at Law can help defend you and protect your rights; schedule a consultation with us.