Immigration and Criminal ConvictionsAuthor: Portner & Shure
When you face certain criminal convictions within the state of Virginia, you may also face serious immigration consequences if you are found to be guilty. Being found "guilty" means any pleas of guilt and nolo contendere pleas if there is any form of punishment. You are not considered guilty if there are deferred dispositions that are not a guilty or a nolo contendere plea.
The immigration consequences that you face depend on your current immigration status. If you entered into the United States without inspection, or if you are a temporary immigrant applying for permanent residence, or if you are a permanent resident or nonimmigrant looking to reenter the United States after traveling abroad, you are facing inadmissibility. If you are a nonimmigrant or a permanent resident with a green card, then you are facing deportation.
Crimes that may be grounds for inadmissibility are crimes involving moral turpitude, controlled substance offense, multiple offenses, and certain acts of prostitution.
A crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT) is usually a crime of theft, fraud, and a crime of violence. Crimes that are not considered a CIMT are regulatory offenses, DUIs, and certain drug offenses. If you commit multiple CIMTs, you will be considered inadmissible, but if you commit only one CIMT that is a "petty offense," then you will not be considered inadmissible. A petty offense is a crime that is not punishable by more than one year of jail time and you were not sentenced to more than 6 months.
A controlled substance offense is any offense that includes simple possession of any quantity of any controlled substance. Multiple offenses, if the aggregate sentence is 5 years or more, will be grounds for inadmissibility. Certain acts of prostitution may be grounds for inadmissibility, but simple solicitation will not be grounds for inadmissibility.
Crimes that may be grounds for deportation are aggravated felonies, CIMTs, controlled substance conviction, firearm or destructive-device convictions, and certain domestic crimes.
There are many crimes that are considered aggravated felonies, but the common ones are murder, rape, sexual abuse of a minor, kidnapping, burglary, theft crimes with a sentence of one or more years, and trafficking in controlled substances.
CIMTs committed within five years of the date of admission and are punishable by at least 1 year in prison are grounds for deportation. Also, multiple CIMTs which are not arising out of the same scheme will also be grounds for deportation.
Controlled substance conviction convictions will be grounds for deportation, except for single offenses of simple marijuana possession of 30 grams or less. A firearm or destructive-device convictions, even minor ones, along with domestic violence, stalking, child abuse, child neglect, and abandonment, and violation of protective orders are all grounds for deportation.