Why You Need an Experienced Immigration Lawyer in Criminal Cases | Ranchod Law Group
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Why You Need an Experienced Immigration Lawyer in Criminal Cases

The importance of hiring an experienced immigration lawyer in criminal cases

Working with an experienced immigration lawyer is helpful regardless of whether you plan to study in the U.S. or are applying for a green card. However, it’s particularly beneficial for those who have a criminal background. 

With even the most routinary immigration cases, simple mistakes or omissions during the application process can result in your application being denied. In addition, criminal convictions can have even more severe immigration consequences, including deportation or inadmissibility to the U.S. Here are some important reasons why you need an experienced immigration lawyer for criminal cases. 

5 Reasons You Should Hire an Immigration Lawyer

Immigration proceedings are legally binding matters that can impact an individual’s life and opportunities; despite this, the federal government doesn’t require people to work with immigration lawyers or entitle them to have legal representation during immigration proceedings. 

However, there are several reasons why working with an experienced immigration (or crimmigration) attorney is well worth the cost if you’ve been convicted of a criminal offense or have committed a criminal offense and are trying to enter the U.S. or avoid removal. An experienced immigration lawyer can: 

  • Advise you on the immigration implications of a criminal charge
  • Provide advice on how to avoid or minimize immigration consequences due to criminal activity
  • Defend your rights in both criminal and immigration proceedings
  • Work with immigration authorities to minimize the immigration consequences of a criminal conviction 
  • Assist with avoiding removal, such as obtaining a waiver of inadmissibility or asylum

In which situations should you consider hiring an Immigration Attorney?

Although it’s always recommended to work with an immigration attorney to increase the chances of your case getting approved, there are some specific scenarios where hiring an immigration lawyer is highly advisable:

You’re a non-citizen charged with a first-time crime

If you’re an immigrant or non-citizen facing a criminal charge, you’re at risk of losing your immigration status. A criminal conviction, even for a minor offense, could mean losing the opportunity to obtain a green card, deportation, being found inadmissible, or a permanent bar from re-entering the country.

You have an expunged or sealed criminal record

It’s important to understand that the law doesn’t acknowledge expungement or sealed records for non-citizens. Immigration law is separate from criminal law. Therefore, criminal records can be used during immigration proceedings. Regardless of whether your record has been sealed or expunged, you must be honest about your criminal history if an immigration officer asks you about it. 

You voted illegally in a presidential election

Only U.S. citizens are allowed to vote in federal elections; voting in a presidential election as a non-citizen can result in criminal charges, fines, and/or imprisonment; you may also be at risk of deportation and inadmissibility.

You haven’t paid your taxes

Citizens and non-citizens must file and pay their taxes; it’s also a crime to lie on your tax return. Failure to pay your taxes can result in losing your immigration status.

You’ve been charged with a DUI

A DUI arrest or conviction can cause your immigration application to be denied, renewed, or prevent you from obtaining citizenship for five years; in some cases. It can also lead to the removal of permanent status and the possibility of facing criminal charges.

Arrests or convictions can have serious consequences—especially for non-citizens. To protect your rights and the steps you’ve already taken in your immigration journey, it’s essential to work with an attorney who understands the implications of criminal charges in the context of immigration law. 

Examples of Deportable and Inadmissible Crimes

Under the federal Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), some criminal convictions can lead to deportation or inadmissibility. If an individual is found “deportable,” they’re subject to being removed from the U.S. If an individual is found inadmissible, they may not:

  • Re-enter the U.S. after leaving
  • Become a U.S. citizen
  • Apply for permanent residence (a green card), or
  • Apply for adjustment of status

Crimes That May Lead to Deportation 

Several categories of crimes can cause an individual to get deported, including:

Crimes of Moral Turpitude

Although the legal definition of moral turpitude is vague, it generally includes crimes that involve fraud, embezzlement, theft, dishonesty, or harmful anti-social behavior.

Aggravated felonies

The definition of aggravated felonies is broader in immigration law than it is in criminal law and can include both violent and non-violent crimes, including:

  • Rape, murder, kidnapping, and other violent crimes
  • Certain firearm offenses
  • Racketeering and extortion
  • Certain drug-related offenses
  • Money laundering and tax evasion
  • Offenses related to espionage and national security

Drug offenses

Drug offenses refer to any criminal offense related to controlled substances, including:

  • Possession, sale, or distribution of drugs
  • Manufacturing or trafficking drugs
  • Importing or exporting drugs
  • Conspiracy to commit drug offenses

Knowing child neglect

Knowing child neglect means the parent or caregiver failed to care for their child properly, which resulted in harm or risk of harm to their child’s health or wellbeing. This can include physical neglect as well as emotional neglect. 

Inadmissible Crimes

Inadmissible crimes prevent an individual from entering or re-entering the U.S. and becoming naturalized or obtaining a green card. These include:

  • Crimes of moral turpitude that were committed within five years of entering the U.S.
  • Most crimes involving controlled substances
  • Two or more crimes that cause an individual to spend a total of 5 years or more in prison
  • Crimes that demonstrate a lack of “good moral character” include aggravated felonies, perjury, domestic violence, prostitution, tax evasion, and more. 

Crimes can fit into more than one category, which is why it’s so important to discuss the details of your case with an immigration attorney who can help you understand the immigration implication of a particular charge. 

Ranchod Law Group: Experienced Criminal Immigration Attorneys

At Ranchod Law Group, our experienced criminal immigration attorneys provide guidance and legal representation for a variety of criminal offenses, including:

  • DUIs
  • Domestic violence
  • Drug convictions
  • Crimes of violence

Contact us today at (916) 613-3553 or email us at information@ranchodlaw.com to schedule a consultation. 

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