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Can You Get Deported for a Misdemeanor?

Last updated 11/25/2019

The government can deport all immigrants, including green card holders, if they violate the immigration laws of the country. The most common violations that result in deportations are usually criminal convictions.

Figuring out whether a criminal conviction will get you deported can be very complicated, especially since both state and federal laws come into play. This article summarizes the basic things you need to know on how a criminal conviction can affect your immigration status.

Can I Be Deported for a Misdemeanor?

Not necessarily. Courts look at the actual crime rather than its classification when they review your case. The judge will see if the crime falls under a deportable offense. Deportable offenses include crimes of moral turpitude and aggravated felonies.

Aggravated Felonies

Section 1101(a)(43) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) lists out the crimes that are considered aggravated felonies under immigration law. These include murder, firearm offenses, drug trafficking, rape, theft, and other violent crimes in which the penalty exceeds one year or more.

It is important to note that many of the crimes the INA lists as aggravated felonies are normally charged as misdemeanors. Some examples are theft, failure to appear at court pursuant to a court order, and crimes of violence.

Crimes of Moral Turpitude

Crimes of moral turpitude are not explicitly defined in the INA. But courts have stated that they include crimes that breach the people's and the country's trust. Thus, crimes involving theft and dishonesty are considered crimes involving moral turpitude. Some of the offenses that courts have classified as crimes of moral turpitude include:

  • Embezzlement
  • Perjury
  • Fraud
  • Assault
  • Shoplifting

The list of crimes that courts found to involve moral turpitude is long. It is, therefore, very crucial to speak to an attorney to see whether your particular offense has been found to be a crime involving moral turpitude.

Petty offenses where the penalty does not exceed imprisonment of one year or more are categorized as an exception to crimes of moral turpitude. This means if you only have one crime involving moral turpitude and the penalty does not exceed one year, then the crime will not be a ground for your deportation. However, if you have been charged with more than one petty offense involving moral turpitude, you may be deported regardless of how short the sentence was.

Other Crimes That May Make You Deportable

Section 237 of the INA has a complete list of crimes and other grounds that make an immigrant deportable. Domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, stalking, and human trafficking are among the crimes explicitly listed as deportable crimes under this section.

The immigration laws are very tricky, particularly when it comes to criminal convictions. It is therefore very important to study the laws and consult an attorney, especially before agreeing to sign any plea bargain.

Additional Resources

Wondering What the Effects of a Criminal Conviction Are on Your Immigration Status? Consult an Attorney

The consequences of a criminal conviction can be dire, especially for immigrants. Not only can a criminal conviction result in your deportation, it may also make you inadmissible to enter the United States. It is thus imperative to consult an immigration attorney to help you fight your deportation.

Next Steps

Contact a qualified immigration attorney to help with deportation or removal proceedings.