If you are convicted of a criminal offense, the results can be disastrous. In addition to possibly serving time in jail, you can be responsible for heavy monetary fines, loss of your job, your driver’s license, and could be subject to probation. Additionally, your reputation can become tarnished. Add to the mix the fact that you are not a citizen of this country, and you may even be deported.
Can illegal immigrants be legally represented? The short answer is yes but it requires the knowledge of a criminal defense attorney who understands immigration law and the consequences of being accused and/or convicted of a criminal offense.
Two categories of crimes that can have a negative impact on your immigration status are aggravated felonies and Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude (CIMT). CIMT crimes include conduct that shocks the public conscience such as murder, kidnapping, voluntary manslaughter, robbery, and aggravated assaults. Aggravated felonies include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Sexual abuse of a minor
- Crimes relating to drug trafficking
- Offenses involving firearms
- Money laundering
- Child pornography
- Document fraud
- Income tax evasion
- Treason or anything related to national security
The US immigration law states that any illegal alien who is convicted of a CIMT crime, or even admits to committing such a crime, cannot stay in this country.
A conviction in a lower court for violating a law, for example, possession of a controlled dangerous substance, can have a negative effect on the illegal immigrant’s immigration status. Further, if a non-citizen convicted of these offenses attempts to re-enter the country after having been deported permanently, they can be sentenced to prison time of up to twenty years.
If you are in this country illegally and you have been arrested, it does not necessarily mean the court will find you guilty. The Federal or State government has the responsibility of proving beyond a reasonable doubt all the elements of that crime, regardless of citizenship.
It is imperative that you contact a criminal defense lawyer experienced with immigration law as it pertains to criminal offenses the moment you are charged. Your attorney can look into your circumstances, and help preserve evidence that may help your case. They will look at the evidence that is being brought against you and determine if the prosecutors have a strong case against you. If you are in jail and do not have the means to post bail, your attorney can go before the judge and request a reduction in the amount of the bail.
If you decide to plead not guilty, your case will go to trial. A jury is selected to impart a decision based on the facts that are presented and applicable laws. The judge will explain this during their instructions to the jury.
It does not matter how minor or seemingly insignificant the charges are being brought against you, it is important that you contact a criminal immigration lawyer. As an illegal immigrant, the possible consequences of your charges can be life-changing and can make you eligible for deportation and additional ramifications as a result of a conviction.