Crimes Leading to Deportation: A Complex Equation

immigration lawFor non-citizen residents of the United States, committing a crime often results in serious financial, legal, and immigration-status consequences. The nature and circumstances of the specific crime, however, impacts the outcome and, perhaps more crucially, determines whether it results in deportation. There are three main categories of deportable offenses: those related to immigration and security violations; those related to traditional crimes; and actions considered untoward, but not usually criminal, which may nevertheless result in deportation. Evaluating whether specific crimes committed by aliens of differing statuses is complicated and sometimes seemingly small details determine whether an immigrant is deported.

Who is affected under these regulations?

Under federal law, there are specific groups of “deportable aliens.”

  • Non-citizens who have violated their immigration status or who were ineligible for admission.
  • Any alien who has committed specific criminal actions, faces public charges, or votes illegally.
  • Any alien who has lied on or provided false information on official documents.
  • Any alien who poses a national security threat.

Generally, only offenses committed by lawful residents since entry into the United States are considered for purposes of deportation, provided that a full and true account of the previous legal history was given upon entry. For undocumented immigrants or those who entered the United States illegally, the discovery of a prior actionable offense committed and adjudicated outside the US may serve as grounds for deportation. Likewise, a lawful resident who hid or concealed a prior criminal history that would have prevented his or her legal entry may be at risk of deportation.

Various types of criminal acts leading to potential deportation

The most conspicuous crimes leading to deportation are usually considered serious crimes – aggravated felonies, domestic violence, violation of protective orders, stalking, illegal drugs, possessing firearms unlawfully, and attempting to evade arrest. These crimes can lead to expedited (or hurried up) deportation under federal law; however, and here is the kicker, an act that a particular state law may deem a misdemeanor or not a crime can still be considered a felony under federal immigration law, and subjects the immigrant to deportation.

You should also know that there are immigration-specific criminal acts or crimes: engaging in immigration fraud, being involved in or considered a risk to national security; or a legal immigrant who is found guilty of moral turpitude. Moral turpitude is a broad category and included intentionally committing a serious criminal act, acting recklessly, or engaging in lewd or immoral behavior. Crimes of moral turpitude may also fit into other criminal categories, resulting in multiple immigration charges.  Repeated offenses, even minor ones, can also lead to deportation under the crimes involving moral turpitude.

If you or a family member face deportation or are charged with any crime, Nashville immigration attorney Perry Craft can help. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, call the Law Office of Perry A. Craft, PLLC, at 615-953-3808 or fill out our contact form.