CRIMINAL GROUNDS OF DEPORTATION / REMOVABILITY
Being a legal permanent resident is not the same as being a citizen.
This flat truth has been the downfall of many an individual, who having grown up here in the US, erroneously believes him or herself to be a citizen. If a citizen and a legal permanent resident commit the same crime, the consequences will be vastly different. A citizen will walk out of jail after serving the sentence. A non citizen will likely be released to the Immigration & Customs Enforcement for the issuance of a Notice to Appear and the beginning of a deportation hearing, to determine whether they will be permitted to remain here in the US.
The following is a sampler of the various Criminal Grounds that can subject you to deportation:
Crimes of Moral Turpitude (“CIMT”):
For individuals who were legally admitted to the US, the CIMT ground of deportability makes deportable any non-citizen who was: (1) convicted of a crime; (2) where the crime was of moral turpitude; (3) the crime was committed within five years after the foreign national’s admission into the United States; and (4) the crime was one for which a sentence of one year or more of confinement in prison may be imposed. INA 237(a)(2)(A)(i)
INA §237(a)(2)(A)(ii) states: “Any alien who at any time after admission is convicted of two or more crimes involving moral turpitude, not arising out of a single scheme of criminal misconduct, regardless of whether confined thereof and regardless of whether the convictions were in a single trial, is deportable.”
For individuals who are seeking status in the US or are undocumented, then INA212(a)(2)(A)(i) provides that “Any alien convicted of, or who admits having committed,or who admits committing acts which constitute the essential elements of – (1) a crime involving moral turpitude…or an attempt or conspiracy to commit such a crime…is inadmissible.”
What does “moral turpitude” mean?
The term “moral turpitude” is not defined by the Immigration & Nationality Act. Instead, its meaning has been developed almost entirely through case-law. It is commonly used to refer generally to conduct which is inherently base, vile, or depraved, contrary to the accepted rules of morality and the duties owed between persons or society in general. See Matter of Franklin, 20 I. & N. Dec. 867, 868 (BIA 1994). Moral turpitude also has been defined as an act which is per se morally reprehensible and intrinsically wrong, or malum in se, so it is the nature of the act itself and not the statutory prohibition of it which renders a crime one of moral turpitude. See Matter of Torres-Varela, 23 I. & N. Dec. 78, 85 (BIA 2001); see also Matter of Franklin, supra; Matter of Fualaau, 21 I. & N. Dec. 475 (BIA 1996). The seriousness of a criminal offense, the severity of the sentence imposed, or the particular circumstances of the crime’s commission do not determine whether the crime involves moral turpitude. Matter of Serna, 20 I. & N. Dec. 579, 581 (BIA 1992); Matter of Short, 20 I. & N. Dec. 136, 137(BIA 1989).
A foreign national is deportable if he or she has been convicted of an aggravated felony at any time after admission. INA 237(a)(2)(A)(iii).
Controlled Substance Violations
A non citizen who at any time after being legally admitted has been convicted of a violation of, (or a conspiracy or attempt to violate) any law or relation of a State, the United States or a foreign country relating to a controlled substance, other than a single offense involving possession for one’s own use of 30 grams or less of marijuana, is deportable. INA 237(a)(2)(B)(i).
For individuals who are seeking status in the US or are undocumented, then INA 212(a)(2)(A)(ii) provides a similar ground of inadmissibility for those who are “convicted of, or who admits having committed, or who admits committing acts which constitute the essential elements of….(II) a violation of (or a conspiracy or attempt to violate) any law or regulation of a State, the United States, or a foreign country relating to a controlled substance (as defined in Section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 USC 802)).”
A non citizen who at any time after admission is convicted under any law of purchasing, selling, offering for sale, exchanging, using, owning, possessing or carrying or of attempting or conspiring to purchase, sell, offer for sale, exchange, use, own, possess, or carry, any weapon, part, or accessory which is a firearm or destructive device is deportable. INA 237(a)(2)(C).
Crimes involving Domestic Violence, Stalking, Child Abuse, Child Neglect or Child Abandonment
A non citizen is deportable if, at any time after admission s/he is convicted of:
- a crime of domestic violence
- a crime of stalking
- a crime of child abuse, child neglect, or child abandonment. INA 237(a)(2)(E)(i)
This is just a sampling of the various grounds of criminal conduct that leave you vulnerable to losing the life you know here. Before you plead to any criminal conviction, no matter how minor it appears, you should have a consultation with an experienced immigration attorney. Don’t wait until it is too late. Call us at (213) 739-8889 to see how your pending criminal case might affect your future in this country.