Many people come to America for the abundance of opportunities. However, things do not always go as planned. When charged with a crime, many immigrants face risks associated with their citizenship and status in America. Let’s discuss what may happen regarding your immigration status if you’re arrested and convicted of a domestic violence crime.
The U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)
Within the INA, the federal government sets guidelines for individuals ineligible to become citizens and who may face deportation. Within this act, there are specific rules regarding domestic violence offenses.
The INA considers a domestic violence crime to be any violent offense committed against the defendant’s:
- Romantic partner whom they live with
- Any other individual protected by the state or country’s domestic violence laws
The INA considers a crime of violence to be any behavior that involves a substantial threat or risk of harm to the victim.
Typical domestic violence offenses include:
- Threatening to do harm and having the capacity to carry out the threat
- Causing physical injury
- Sexual abuse
- Withholding someone’s needs (food, shelter, medicine, etc.)
Will I Be Deported for Domestic Violence?
In most cases, individuals convicted of domestic violence will be subject to optional removal. This means that the judge can determine whether or not the individual can remain in America and hold citizenship. However, if the defendant is sentenced for an aggravated felony offense or crime of moral turpitude, this will render them inadmissible to the United States.
An aggravated felony offense occurs when the defendant is sentenced to over one year in jail.
A crime of moral turpitude is an offense that shocks the public due to the offender’s lack of respect for other human life. This could include murder, aggravated assault, rape, and more.
Additionally, if you are arrested for repeat domestic violence, you will likely be deported even if each offense is a misdemeanor. It’s crucial that you stay out of legal trouble during your time in the states.
Avoiding Deportation Through Plea Bargaining
After a domestic dispute goes awry, you may be panicking that your entire life in America is at stake. While in general, misdemeanor crimes will not lead to deportation, it’s a different story for aggravated felonies. If you are at risk of a sentence that is one year or more, you should consider plea bargaining.
Plea bargaining occurs when the judge and prosecutors offer the defendant a shorter sentence in exchange for their guilty plea. For example, if someone faces ten years in prison, the prosecutor may offer them five years if they plead guilty and waive their right to a jury trial. Settling cases through plea bargaining happens in well over half of all criminal cases.
To protect your immigration status, you may consider accepting a plea deal for a lesser charge that will result in under one year of incarceration. This way, your conviction will not be elevated to an aggravated felony offense, and you have a better chance of remaining in the U.S. as a green card holder or citizen. Each case is unique; you’ll want to discuss your options with a criminal defense attorney who also understands the potential immigration consequences of your case.
Orange County Domestic Violence Defense
If you are an immigrant or visa holder facing criminal domestic violence charges, contact the team at Law Offices of Randy Collins today. You not only face criminal penalties, but you are also at risk of deportation or other consequences to your immigration status. Our team wants to help you remain in the U.S. Give us a call at (844) 285-9559 to speak with our Los Angeles domestic violence lawyers today.