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Can You Be Deported for Committing a Crime?

December 17, 2021

All immigrants, including green card holders, can be deported for committing a crime in the United States. The most common reason for people to be deported is that there is evidence that they have been convicted of a crime, including a crime of moral turpitude or an aggravated felony offense. In addition, certain crimes, such as human trafficking, child pornography, drug crimes, tax evasion, participation in terrorist activities, firearms trafficking, and violent crimes are grounds for deportation.

A longer list of crimes can get an immigrant or a green card holder to be deported if they leave the country, come back, and are subject to removal proceedings upon their return. Such individuals, even if they're allowed back into the United States, they're presumed to be seeking readmission, thus any criminal offenses committed since their previous admission can make to be reported back to their country of birth and inadmissible for readmission. 

What are the Removal/Deportation Proceedings?

Deportation is the legal act of removing a foreign national or an undocumented immigrant from the United States and returning the person to their native country. Typically, immigration officials known as Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE, start the deportation process. Otherwise, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) also address general immigration issues. Any immigrant who isn't a US citizen is subject to deportation proceedings, especially if they're found taking part in criminal misconduct or violating immigration laws.

NYC Immigration

If a person has been issued a Notice to Appear or has been assigned a hearing in immigration court. An immigration judge will hear their deportation case and consider all evidence before deciding whether to issue an order of removal or allow them to stay in the United States. Consult with an experienced NYC immigration lawyer to craft the best strategy to win your case and remain in the country.

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) §237, if any of the following conditions apply to you, then you can be deported:

  • Conviction of a deportable offense, such as a crime of moral turpitude committed in the last 5 years after admission to the United States.
  • 2 or more convictions of offenses of moral turpitude, not arising from a single scheme.
  • Conviction of a crime where a jail sentence of 1 year or more of imprisonment might be imposed.
  • Conviction of an aggravated felony after admission to the United States.
  • Convictions of domestic violence offenses or violation of protection orders.
  • Drug abuse or drug trafficking.

Who Can Be Deported for Committing a Crime?

The federal Immigration and Nationality Act stipulates that any non-citizen living in the US can be deported from the country –if they commit certain criminal offenses.

It doesn't matter:

  • How long you have lived in the United States,
  • how well your life is established, including having a lucrative job, being a homeowner, or a successful business owner.
  • Whether you have dependent children who are US citizens.

Similarly, it doesn't matter what your immigration status is. All non-citizens are subject to deportation under sections of the Immigration and Nationality Act, whether they're:

If you're a non-citizen who has been convicted of certain inadmissible crimes, you can't be allowed to:

  1. Re-enter the United States after leaving,
  2. Become a United States citizen, or
  3. Apply for permanent residence through green card application or adjustment of status.

Learn More: Reasons to Hire an Immigration Attorney

What is a Deportable Crime of Moral Turpitude?

The first primary category of deportable crime includes the so-called “crimes of moral turpitude”. These crimes are also known as crimes involving moral turpitude (CIMTs).

Related Content: What is Expedited Removal?

Crimes of moral turpitude are a complicated aspect of immigration law. That is because Immigration and Nationality Act doesn't define what is a crime of moral turpitude. Thus, New York and federal courts must come up with their own definition.

Courts define moral turpitude as a corruption of the social basic duties that every person owes to society and other people--typically, this entails antisocial behavior that hurts another individual or the social good.

New York immigration courts have decided that the following are crimes of moral turpitude and thus potentially deportable crimes:

  • Arson;
  • Assault with a deadly weapon;
  • Taking part in terrorist activities;
  • Burglary;
  • Simple possession of illicit drugs;
  • Cultivation of marijuana;
  • Grand theft and petty theft;
  • Forgery;
  • Kidnapping;
  • Grand theft;
  • Murder;
  • Rape and sexual assault;
  • Repeated felony convictions for drunk driving; and 
  • Receiving stolen property.

The immigration consequences of a drunk driving conviction are complex and if you're facing a DUI charge, it's essential to seek legal representation from a skilled criminal immigration attorney.

However, New York immigration courts have decided that the following offenses are not crimes of moral turpitude and thus don't carry the same immigration consequences (such as deportation):

  • Violent assault (not involving a deadly firearm),
  • Child endangerment and child neglect;
  • Involuntary manslaughter, and 
  • Indecent exposure.

However, it's essential to note that being convicted of a single crime of moral turpitude isn't adequate to cause you to be deported from the United States. Instead, you're deportable only if you either:

  1. Are convicted of crimes of moral turpitude where a prison sentence of one year or longer might be imposed, within five years of admission to the U.S., or
  2. Are convicted of two or subsequent crimes of moral turpitude that didn't arise out of a single scheme.

What are Deportable Aggravated Felonies?

Another category of deportable offense is an aggravated felony offense. This means that a criminal conviction for certain felony offenses can cause you to be removed from the country.

deported for committing a crime in NYC

Contrary to crimes moral of turpitude--which must be identified by immigration courts-- aggravated felonies have a specific definition in the Immigration and Nationality Act. Some of the deportable aggravated felonies under criminal immigration law include:

  • Rape,
  • Murder,
  • Drug trafficking,
  • Sexual abuse of a minor,
  • Theft crimes where the prison sentence is more than one year in jail,
  • Illicit trafficking in firearms,
  • Crimes related to the supervision or operation of a prostitution business, including pimping and
  • Fraud rimes that cause the victim to lose at least $10,000.

Can I Be Deported for a Domestic Violence Conviction?

Another category of deportable crimes is the violation of domestic violence laws. Here, you need only a single conviction of a domestic violence charge to be deportable to your native country. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, a domestic violence charge not only means a typical domestic abuse crime, such as the domestic battery on a partner or spouse but may also include child abuse or violation of a restraining order.

Learn More: How Much Does an Immigration Lawyer Charge?

If you or a loved one are facing deportation after the commission of a deportable crime, it's essential to contact an experienced NYC deportation lawyer to protect your constitutional rights. At The Law Office of Jason A. Dennis, we have helped thousands of clients get favorable outcomes in deportation cases and we can help you too. To schedule a free initial consultation, contact our experienced New York immigration and deportation lawyers today at 516-494-7373.

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