Immigration Consequences of Criminal Convictions

It is essential that every non-citizen understand the ramifications of a criminal conviction, either after a verdict, or with a guilty plea.

If a person is in the United States legally, with a green card, and has been here for many years, they are not immune from the threat of deportation. This is true even if that person has been here since they were an infant, and has never actually lived in the country of their citizenship. It goes without saying that as soon as a resident alien is eligible to apply for citizenship, that person needs to make an educated decision. If he or she intends to spend the rest of their life in the United States, or even if they think it is just a strong possibility, they should consider becoming a citizen. There are many factors to consider, but one which often gets overlooked, is that in the event t hat they become involved with the criminal justice system, their future will be protected if they are a citizen.

Otherwise, even a Municipal Court conviction for any crime of moral turpitude subjects a person to deportation. These are very harsh rules, which leave very little discretion for negotiation, and they apply to both legal permanent residents with a green card, as well as to illegal aliens.

The ideal outcome in the event of a criminal matter is one which does not result in any admission of guilt on the court record. Therefore, a deferred prosecution, which does not involve a guilty plea or an allocution is the preferred resolution. Recently, it has been possible to resolve some of these cases with Pre-Trial Intervention, but one that does not involve any oral admissions. This can be accomplished by having the defendants execute an affidavit of guilt, which is kept in the Prosecutor's file, until the probationary period has elapsed. In the event the defendant has no further criminal involvement, the Prosecutor will return the affidavit. On the other hand, if the defendant does get involved in further criminal conduct, the Prosecutor already has the admission of guilt, and can move forward based upon that written admission.