Depending on the criminal charges and immigration status, an individual could be placed in removal proceedings after an arrest in California. There is often a lot of confusion over immigration status and an arrest or criminal conviction. If you are not a U.S. citizen and were arrested in California, you should contact an experienced California criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible who can assist with your immigration attorney to work out the best possible resolution.
Lawful Status in the U.S.
There is a difference between lawful status and individuals unlawfully in the U.S. Generally, if the individual is a permanent resident (Green Card holder), has a current visa (work, study, or other valid visa). If the individual has an unlawful presence, the individual can be put into removal proceedings regardless of the outcome of any criminal charges. Unlawful status may also result in an inadmissibility bar once the individual leaves the U.S.
If the individual has lawful status in the U.S., whether they will be deported or not generally depends on the types of criminal charges.
Deportable vs. Inadmissible
Certain offenses may be grounds for deportation or removal. After a conviction for deportable offenses, the individual may be placed in removal proceedings. Alternatively, other offenses make someone inadmissible to be admitted to the US or get a visa.
Inadmissible Offenses in California
Under federal law, convictions (in the U.S. or other countries) that are considered grounds for inadmissibility may include:
- Crimes of moral turpitude
- Drug crimes
- Multiple convictions
The term “crime of moral turpitude” is vague but can include many types of offenses, including:
- Child abuse
- Sex crimes
- Domestic violence
Deportable Offenses in California
Under federal law, “deportable aliens” can be deported for various criminal convictions, including:
- Crimes of moral turpitude,
- Aggravated felonies,
- Failure to register as a sex offender,
- Drug crimes,
- Gun crimes,
- Domestic violence,
- Child abuse, or
- Multiple criminal convictions.
Beware of a Plea Bargain
A plea bargain can be a benefit to some individuals facing criminal charges. Accepting a deal from the prosecutor (subject to the court's approval), can mean reduced sentencing and avoiding a court trial. If there is a lot of evidence against the defendant, it may be in their best interest to avoid the possibility of the maximum sentence that could result from going to trial.
However, accepting a plea agreement for a reduced sentence can still expose the individual to deportation. Before accepting any plea agreement, make sure you understand the immigration consequences of pleading guilty, even if more serious charges are dropped. It may be in your best interest to fight the criminal charges and reduce the risk of being deported by having the charges dropped or getting a not guilty verdict in court.
Talk to your East Bay criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible to understand your options, the consequences of a guilty plea, and the best chance to avoid a criminal conviction and stay in the country with your family. Ms. Gorelick will work with your immigration attorney to find the best possible alternatives for you.
Criminal Court Alternatives
Criminal court alternatives, such as drug court, provide individuals with an alternative to the criminal justice system where counseling, education, and treatment may be more effective. This includes offenses related to substance abuse. However, when it comes to immigration status, drug court can present a problem for individuals who may substance abuse help by admitting to drug addiction but that may be treated as a reason for inadmissibility or deportation.
Criminal Charges for Non-Citizens in California
Experience matters. With so much at stake in a criminal case for non-citizens, you need an experienced and understanding East Bay DUI and criminal defense attorney to fight to protect your rights. Ms. Gorelick will assist you along with your immigration attorney. If you have been arrested on suspicion of drunk driving in Contra Costa County or Alameda County, contact East Bay DUI lawyer Lynn Gorelick today.