The Impact A Criminal Record Has On Someone’s Immigration Status
It depends on what the record is and what their status is. Several different categories of crimes can make you deportable – even if you’re a permanent resident or even if you have some status that otherwise protects you. Certain kinds of crimes carry mandatory deportation and that is almost any kind of
- moderate or more serious drug crime,
- anything that involves distribution or possession with intent,
- crimes that are violent or dishonest such as murder, and any aggravated felony.
Many other crimes can be classified as an aggravated felony based on the length of your sentence . So that’s something you need to look out for.
Sometimes, whether you got a sentence of a year versus under a year can make a big difference. And some crimes will make you ineligible to apply for a status that you otherwise would be eligible to apply for – even if they don’t make you deportable directly, they may cause you to get deported because you lose the opportunity to apply for something you needed.
Immigrants Face Biases In Criminal Cases
In Boston, the juries and judges are usually pretty fair, but that’s not true everywhere. I would say there may be more bias in places where there are fewer immigrants, and biases against people of color in places where there are fewer people of color.
The Grounds On Which Someone Can File An Appeal Or Request A New Trial
If you take a plea, the plea has to be knowing, voluntary and intelligent. If you take a plea not knowing and not voluntary, it can make the plea illegal. One of the biggest reasons to take a plea not knowing is that you were not advised properly about immigration consequences.
In Massachusetts, your criminal defense attorney has an obligation to warn you about immigration consequences that may come from a conviction. It’s not enough to just say crimes can have immigration consequences. There is also a warning the judge is required to give you, which is not as detailed, but if they didn’t give the warning at all, then that could be a basis for a motion for a new trial. They need to go over that with you if you are not a US citizen.
If they didn’t do that and you are facing immigration consequences because of the conviction, that would be a reason to file a motion for a new trial.
It’s a little bit harder to win when your attorney misadvised you or didn’t advise you, but that’s a possibility. When you talk to me, you should tell me about anything that seems unfair about the process because it may or may not matter, but I’m the one with the experience to make that judgment, not you.
Those are the main things for a plea. A trial is very complicated because there are a million different things that could go wrong. There are a lot of different possibilities such as:
- Having a juror with a bias; (Especially if your attorney asked the judge to exclude that juror and the judge didn’t.)
- It was obvious that your attorney should have asked the judge to exclude the juror, but failed to;
- The judge didn’t give the jury instructions correctly about the relevant law;
- They’ve made an incorrect legal ruling; (Such as if the actions you were accused of could not legal be the crime that you were accused of, the judge should have dismissed the case.)
- Evidence wasn’t suppressed that should have been suppressed;
- And more…
What Can Keep You From Removal Proceedings?
A full dismissal will keep you from removal proceedings based on the crime. It is important to understand what a dismissal means in this context.
Some forms of pleas have what’s called a “continuance without finding” where you admit that the government could have convicted you of a crime if it had enough evidence, but you’re choosing to take a plea instead of going to trial. Then you take probation, and the case is dismissed at the end of probation.
This kind of disposition does not protect you from immigration consequences because you still have the admission of sufficient facts to make up a conviction and a punishment still counts as a conviction for immigration purposes. It has to be a real dismissal that does not involve any kind of plea.
So, the only things that would help you are a straight dismissal or something like pretrial probation where you don’t admit guilt. They call it pretrial probation but most of the time it’s just an agreement to stay out of trouble for a certain amount of time and then the case gets dismissed. That can be an option.
In conclusion, a dismissal might protect you but make sure you understand what they mean when they say dismissal.
For more information on the Impact Of A Criminal Record On Immigration Status, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (617) 297-7502 today.