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Immigration Consequences for Domestic Violence

An argument or misunderstanding can lead to someone calling the police for a domestic dispute. Even if there was no crime, a suspect can be arrested on suspicion of domestic battery. The prosecutor may even convince the defendant that they have no option but to plead guilty. This can result in a permanent criminal record. However, for immigrants, a guilty plea may have serious immigration consequences. 

Immigrants can be removed, deported, or subject to a permanent ban on entering the U.S. after a conviction for certain crimes. Deportability or inadmissibility can depend a lot on the specific criminal charges and facts of each case. Unfortunately, many immigrants do not understand the repercussions of accepting a plea bargain offer. Even if the prosecutor promises a lesser sentence, no jail time, or dropping some charges, a criminal conviction can still lead to deportation or inadmissibility. 

If you have temporary or unlawful status in the U.S. and are facing criminal charges, contact a local East Bay criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. 

Lawful and Unlawful Immigration Status 

The consequences of any arrest depend first on the individual's immigration status. Generally, individuals living in the U.S. fall into one of 3 categories: US citizens; lawful residents, and those with unlawful status. 

Individuals who are arrested for almost any reason with unlawful immigration status can be deported, even if they are never charged or convicted of a crime. 

Lawful permanent residents (green card holders) are eligible to permanently live and work in the U.S., but they are still subject to deportation for a conviction of certain crimes. Some crimes make an LPR deportable and other crimes make someone inadmissible for future lawful status. 

Inadmissible Offenses

Individuals who are “inadmissible” are not permitted to enter or remain in the U.S. there are a number of categories of inadmissibility, including inadmissibility due to criminal reasons, including: 

  1. Crimes involving "moral turpitude”
  2. Violation of any controlled substance law 
  3. Multiple criminal convictions
  4. Drug trafficking
  5. Prostitution
  6. Commercialized vice
  7. Commission of a serious crime in the United States where a person has asserted immunity from prosecution
  8. Violations of religious freedom
  9. Human trafficking
  10. Money laundering

Two or more criminal convictions, including one for domestic battery, could make an individual inadmissible to the U.S. 

A crime of moral turpitude is a vague term that includes acts that are inherently base, vile, or depraved, and contrary to the accepted rules of morality and the duties owed between persons or to society in general. 

When domestic violence may be considered a crime of moral turpitude generally involves some aggravating factors, like sexual battery and domestic violence, domestic violence and false imprisonment, or domestic violence and child abuse

Deportable Offenses

Under federal immigration law, there are a number of criminal violations that make an alien subject to deportation and removal. Deportable offenses involving domestic violence include: 

For deportable offenses, the crime of domestic violence is defined as any crime of violence against a person committed by:

  • A current or former spouse of the person, 
  • An individual with whom the person shares a child in common, 
  • An individual who is cohabiting with or has cohabited with the person as a spouse, or
  • An individual similarly situated to a spouse of the person under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction where the offense occurs. 

Violence means an offense that has an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or property of another, or any felony that, by its nature, involves a substantial risk that physical force against another may occur. 

If an LPR is convicted of domestic battery that involves the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force, that may be considered a deportable offense. 

Defending Against Domestic Violence Charges

The most effective way to avoid deportation for a lawful resident after a domestic violence arrest is to fight the criminal charges and avoid a conviction. Options for avoiding a DV conviction include a court finding of not guilty of domestic violence, negotiating a lesser charge, or the prosecutor dropping the criminal charges. 

Defense Lawyer for 243(e) PC Charges in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties

East Bay attorney Lynn Gorelick has more than 37 years of criminal defense experience and understands the consequences of pleading guilty to a crime without fighting the charges. Representing immigrants in Alameda County and Contra Costa County, Lynn Gorelick is familiar with the local criminal laws, local officers, and the prosecutors involved. Contact East Bay criminal defense lawyer Lynn Gorelick today.

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