The Effects of Criminal Charges on Immigration Status

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Feb 28

Lewis & Laws

The Effects of Criminal Charges on Immigration Status

by Lewis & Laws

Navigating the criminal justice system is daunting for anyone who has been arrested for a crime, but for immigrants in Washington State, the stakes are significantly higher. Not only are there potential language barriers, but the actual criminal charges themselves can affect your immigration status. This may impact your entire future and your ability to stay in the United States. The impact on your future in the U.S. can be profound, whether you're facing minor offenses or more serious charges. 


If you’ve been arrested and charged with a crime in Seattle or anywhere in Washington, you need an experienced Seattle criminal defense lawyer to protect your immigration status. 

Background on Immigration Status and Criminal Charges

In the U.S., immigration law is clear about how criminal convictions affect non-citizens, including permanent residents, visa holders, and undocumented immigrants. A criminal conviction can lead to severe consequences such as deportation, making one inadmissible to the U.S. in the future, or even denying the opportunity for naturalization. Due to the severity of these consequences, immigrants must contact a lawyer immediately when they’re arrested. 

Types of Crimes Affecting Immigration Status

In U.S. immigration law, crimes are categorized to assess their impact on an individual's immigration status, notably distinguishing between "crimes of moral turpitude" and "aggravated felonies." 

Crimes of moral turpitude generally involve acts of dishonesty or immoral behavior, such as fraud or theft. Aggravated felonies include more serious crimes, ranging from murder to certain theft and drug offenses. 

Both categories can lead to severe immigration consequences, including deportation or ineligibility for naturalization. Here are the most common crimes that impact immigration in the United States.

- Drug offenses

- Theft

- Domestic violence

- Fraud

- DUI (Driving Under the Influence)

- Assault or battery

- Sexual offenses

- Kidnapping

- Money laundering

- Human trafficking

- Certain firearm offenses

- Espionage

- Tax evasion

- Perjury

Impact on Different Immigration Statuses

Both criminal law and immigration law are complicated. When an immigrant is arrested and charged with a crime, they need a lawyer who understands how a conviction could impact their ability to stay in the United States. Depending on their immigration status, they could face serious and lifelong consequences if convicted of a crime. 

Certain criminal offenses can lead to inadmissibility for green card applicants, preventing them from securing permanent residency. A conviction could trigger removal proceedings that could result in deportation. 

Non-immigrant visa holders, encompassing students, tourists, and business travelers, face the risk of visa revocation for engaging in criminal activities, which can abruptly end their stay and complicate future entries into the U.S. 

While offered some level of protection, DACA recipients are not immune to the consequences of criminal charges. Felonies and significant misdemeanors can jeopardize their deferred action status, losing protection from deportation and the ability to work legally in the country. 

Defense Strategies for Immigrants

Developing effective defense strategies is crucial for reducing the impact of criminal charges on your immigration status. An experienced criminal defense lawyer in Washington could use many different defense strategies, including:

- Negotiating a Plea Deal. A key approach involves negotiating plea deals that minimize immigration consequences, such as avoiding convictions for deportable offenses.

- Charge Reduction and Alternative Sentencing. Your attorney might also work to reduce charges or argue for alternative sentencing that doesn't jeopardize immigration status. 

- Expungement and Vacating Convictions. Expungement and vacating convictions are other strategies that can remove the immigration hurdles posed by a criminal record. 

It is essential to hire a lawyer with extensive knowledge of both criminal and immigration law. They can help protect your ability to remain in the U.S.

Contact Our Seattle Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

Facing criminal charges as an immigrant can feel overwhelming, but you don't have to navigate this journey alone. Our team is ready to stand by your side, offering expert legal guidance and a compassionate approach to protect your rights and future in the U.S. Contact us today for a consultation, and let us help you secure the defense you deserve.

At Lewis & Laws, we offer aggressive legal assistance to Seattle, Bellevue, Everett, and Washington State individuals. Contact us today to explore your legal options. Protect your future and call us today!



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