You’re living and working in Southern California and have a green card. You’re striving for citizenship. Then you’re arrested, and that puts your dream of citizenship on hold — maybe permanently.
A conviction for a felony — and even for a misdemeanor — can land you in serious trouble. Not only can it jeopardize your job, but immigration officials could issue an order to deport you. That depends on the specific offense and the facts of the case.
If the crime rises to the level of what is termed an aggravated felony or a crime or “moral turpitude,” a non-citizen typically can’t receive relief from deportation. Once deported, that person can be barred from coming back in to the United States.
An aggravated felony, in this instance, can include crimes that one typically wouldn’t be considered major. In fact, in some states they are misdemeanors for U.S. citizens.
Aggravated felonies include crimes such as federal drug trafficking, murder and illegal firearms trafficking. However, legislation has made a number of other crimes aggravated felonies, including: filing a fraudulent tax return, theft, failure to appear in court and simple battery.
While there isn’t a federal list that defines a crime of moral turpitude, some courts have considered offenses such as tax evasion, child abuse, perjury, wire fraud and carrying a concealed weapon to fit the bill.
Any conviction for a U.S. citizen is a concern. For a non-citizen, it could change the direction of their lives and even take them away from their families. A non-citizen who is arrested should consult with an experienced attorney immediately to discuss the charges and set a strategy to defend against them.