Could a criminal arrest threaten your immigration status?

In previous posts, we’ve discussed some of the procedural rights that must accompany a lawful arrest, such as the Miranda warning. Yet for someone who is uncertain about his or her immigration status, a brush with law enforcement can be an intimidating affair.

Many immigrants may fear that a criminal arrest may trigger a deportation proceeding. Yet after an arrest, the bell has already been rung. Accordingly, there may be no benefit to accepting a plea for a lesser offense, such as a misdemeanor instead of a felony. Immigration officials may be inclined to commence deportation proceedings in either instance, regardless of the type of conviction.

Notably, the Immigration and Nationality Act defines a conviction more broadly than a guilty plea. Under the INA, a conviction may also be defined as a plea of no contest, an admission, or even forms of court-ordered restraint upon a defendant’s liberty, such as suspended sentences or convictions that are vacated after completion of rehabilitation programs.

Our criminal defense law firm understands how high the stakes may be for immigrants facing criminal charges. We are also knowledgeable about the immigration consequences that may be triggered after pleading guilty to a crime. Before entering into plea negotiations, it is essential for an immigrant to consult with an attorney. An attorney can review a client’s case and determine if there may be alternatives to a conviction. Even if you have already negotiated a guilty plea with prosecutors, it may not be too late for a criminal defense attorney to review your case and fight for the best outcome.

Source: AZ Central, “Roberts: Immigration crackdown is golden for private prisons,” Laurie Roberts, Feb. 21, 2017

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Patrick T. McNally, Attorney at Law
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