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How Pleading Guilty to Criminal Charges Can Affect You in Immigration Court

a man getting arrested

If you are facing criminal charges as an immigrant in the United States, the outcome of your criminal case can severely impact your immigration status. You may face serious consequences, whether you have a visa, green card, or don’t have immigration status. Our Orange County immigration attorneys explain how pleading guilty to criminal charges can affect you in immigration court.

Criminal Charges & Immigration Status

Facing criminal charges can be daunting, especially as an immigrant. Seeking legal guidance from an experienced criminal defense attorney can be beneficial because they will help you get your charges reduced. However, it is important to be mindful of how your criminal defense strategies will impact your immigration status.

For example, there are cases where pleading guilty to a crime can help reduce charges. However, this can significantly impact your immigration status and can lead to deportation. When facing criminal charges, it is important to get legal guidance from an immigration attorney to understand how the conviction will impact you in immigration court.

When Does the Immigration Court Consider Criminal Charges a Conviction?

If you were arrested for a crime but the charges were later dropped, it won’t count as a “conviction.” In most cases, you must be convicted of a crime in order to get deported. However, arrests can result in red flags – especially when you need to demonstrate that you have a “good moral character” on an immigration application. Even though minors who get convicted in juvenile court will not affect you in immigration court, if you are charged as an adult even though you are under the age of 18, you could face deportation.

What If I Plead Guilty to a Crime?

According to the U.S. law (specifically, the Immigration and Nationality Act at I.N.A § 101 (a)(48) or 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(48)), “a person can be found to have been ‘convicted’ of a crime with or without having been formally judged guilty. If there was no official finding of guilt, but you pled guilty or no contest ("nolo contendere"), or if you admitted enough facts for a finding of guilt to be made and the judge ordered some sort of punishment, you could be viewed as having been convicted of the crime and deported on that basis.”

Facing criminal charges as an immigrant in the United States? Contact us today at (949) 478-4963 to schedule a consultation!

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