As an immigrant, you may worry about deportation. Even if you feel like you are doing everything properly, the threat of it seems like it hangs over your head. Is one minor issue going to undo everything that you have been working to achieve?

You may have heard that the top reason for deportation is a criminal conviction. Someone breaks the law and is told that — on those grounds alone — they can no longer stay in the country. Yet, you know that there are a wide range of potential criminal offenses. How major or minor does the offense need to be to result in deportation? For instance, would someone who gets picked up for selling drugs face more repercussions than someone accused of drug possession? Would someone accused of assault get deported alongside someone accused of a traffic violation?

The answer is complicated. Generally, courts deport people for more serious offenses. Examples include embezzlement, assault, weapons offenses, violent crimes and other issues that would put someone in jail for more than a year.

However, the court can also decide to deport someone if what they did is a “crime of moral turpitude.” One crime that has been classified this way is shoplifting. Compared to assault or drug trafficking, shoplifting feels relatively minor, but that does not mean it won’t have the same major ramifications. Drug possession, prostitution and other relatively minor crimes for a citizen can be devastating for an immigrant.

Every case is unique. The threat of deportation, unfortunately, is very real. It can have a massive impact on the future for you and your family. If you find yourself facing this type of situation, make sure that you are well aware of the legal options you have.