As a former Assistant Public Defender with the Miami-Dade Public Defender’s Office, and in my capacity as a Miami immigration attorney, I often receive questions about one’s immigration status after a criminal conviction. Here are some frequently asked questions about criminal issues as they relate to immigration law.

I have a green card. Is it true that I cannot be deported?

False. This is one of the biggest misconceptions. The reality is that all immigrants, including those with green cards are subject to deportation if they violate U.S. immigration laws. If you and/or a loved one has a a visa or a green card, and have been convicted of a crime, I strongly suggest that you speak with a Miami immigration attorney

How or why are immigrants, including green card holders, placed in removal proceedings?

If there is evidence that you have committed a crime, you run the risk of being placed in deportation proceedings.

I was convicted of a crime, but it was a “minor” crime. Does this mean that I cannot be deported?

Again, this is false.  For immigration purposes, it does not matter if you, or if the criminal justice system deems your crime a “minor” crime. What matters is if you have been convicted of a crime that the immigration authorities view is a”crime of moral turpitude” or an “aggravated felony,” unless the crime counts as a petty offense.

Under immigration law, what counts as a “crime of moral turpitude?”

U.S. immigration law does not provide a specific definition for a “crime of moral turpitude.”  According to the Department of State, crimes of moral turpitude commonly include “fraud, larceny, and intent to harm persons or things.”

This means that crimes involving dishonesty and theft will almost always be considered crimes of moral turpitude. Others include, but are not limited to: assault with the intent to rob or kill, spousal abuse, and aggravated driving under the influence (“DUI” or “DWI”).

When is my conviction not a crime of moral turpitude?

United States immigration law does provide that if a crime is deemed a “petty offense,” the crime stands a chance of not being classified as a “crime of moral turpitude.” Again, if you are  currently a visa holder, or a green card holder, and have been convicted of a crime – it is highly advisable to consult with a Miami  immigration attorney immediately to discuss your options. Do not guess. Criminal statutes differ significantly  from immigration statutes.

Will I be placed in deportation proceedings if I have been convicted of a crime of moral turpitude?

If you have committed a crime of moral turpitude, two different things will get you placed in deportation proceedings:

1) You commit a crime of moral turpitude during the first five years after your admission to the United States.

2) You commit two or more crimes of moral turpitude that did not arise out of a single scheme of criminal misconduct at any time after your admission to the United States.

What other crimes can I get deported for?

You run the risk of being placed in deportation proceedings if you have been convicted of the following crimes. Remember – this is by no means an exhaustive list!

  • DUI
  • DWI
  • Drug crimes
  • Illegal possession or sales of firearms
  • Domestic violence
  • Child Abuse
  • Child Neglect
  • Human trafficking
  • Sex trafficking
  • Rape
  • Molestation
  • Murder

I was  arrested but not convicted of an offense related to the sale of controlled substances. Am I at risk?

Possibly. Current immigration law may subject you to deportation or inadmissibility if there is a “reason to believe” you have been involved in drug trafficking. Despite a dismissal, the arrest report alone could be used against you. You will want to consult with an Immigration Attorney if you have had such an arrest.

I am not a United States citizen.  I have been convicted of a crime. What should I do?

You should immediately schedule a consultation with a Miami immigration attorney to discuss your options. Remember – any plea deal that you accept in your criminal case may adversely affect your immigration case. You will want to make sure that your immigration counsel and your criminal counsel work hand in hand to ensure that both your immigration, and your criminal cases are not jeopardized. If you are only considering retaining a Miami immigration attorney, it may be a good idea to retain a Miami immigration attorney who has experience in both criminal law and immigration law.

If you think would like more information on consequences of a criminal conviction on your immigration status, please contact Miami immigration attorney Michael G. Murray, Esq. at (305)895-2500 or visit our website at www. 

Coronavirus update: We are safely open for business! USCIS is still accepting new filings for all applications. Our office is offering virtual consultations for new clients so that you don't have to come to our office in person. Call us to schedule your virtual meeting today.
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