I Have a Green Card and Criminal Charges. What am I Facing?

First and foremost, I’m not an immigration attorney. I’m not familiar with the finer details of immigration law any more than a dentist is familiar with heart surgery! If, after reading this article, you feel you need to talk to an immigration attorney I’d be glad to refer you to a few I trust.

The stakes are higher for immigrants who pick up criminal charges. As far as Federal Immigration is concerned you don’t deserve to be here if you can’t stay out of trouble. That’s harsh but it’s so true in Alabama that anytime someone is arrested with an un-American last name Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, places a hold on the individual so they can’t bond out of jail. It’s then up to the inmate to prove his citizenship! This happened recently with two of my clients who were from Yemen, but had attained U.S Citizenship. I had to work with their family to procure their passports to get them out of jail!

If your arrest is considered a crime of moral turpitude, or a dishonest crime, you could get deported back to your home country. Moral turpitude is a vague definition. Crimes of moral turpitude are selling alcohol to minors or theft, while speeding tickets and DUIs typically are not.

In reality, ICE pursues any immigrant who picks up charges. Generally your first offense, if not serious, will land you probation. But any charges after that could get you kicked out of America. For example, I’ve got a case right now where an immigrant who sold cigarettes to a minor and got probation is facing possible deportation because he got in an argument with his wife who told the police he hit her. He is charged with domestic violence in the third degree, a slap on the wrist for an American citizen, but a crime that could result in his deportation if he is guilty.

Another client sold cigarettes to a minor and got probation. He then got charged with obstructing governmental operations, typically a bogus charge made by a cop who didn’t get the info he wanted. Again, this is a simple crime for an American, but because he only had a green card he was facing deportation. Luckily I was able to get his case dismissed, so he gets to stay in America.

I can’t stress enough the importance of hiring the right criminal defense attorney if you’re an immigrant charged with a crime. You have to be very careful what you say and how you proceed in your case, or you could get sent back to your home country. If you’ve been charged with a crime and you’re not a U.S. citizen, call me immediately. Your right to live in America depends on it!

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