Criminal charges can complicate anybody’s life, but they are very problematic for immigrants who lack citizenship. Our attorneys do not practice immigration law and always recommend that you consult with an immigration attorney. However, our team can help you challenge the criminal charges against you. For clients who speak Spanish, we have a full-time bilingual staff member to translate for you.
If you are charged with a crime as an undocumented individual or a lawful permanent resident, you could lose more than your freedom. A criminal conviction could lead to detainer, removal, or deportation proceedings. For those seeking citizenship, a criminal record could eliminate that dream. You need a strong advocate on your side. If you retain us, we will make sure you know what to expect and keep you informed of developments in your case.
At the Law Offices of John J. Zarych, our reputation was built on the way we treat our clients and our success in the courtroom. Our New Jersey criminal defense lawyers for immigrants will fight to protect your rights. We serve immigrant communities from our offices in Northfield, Cape May, and Atlantic City. To schedule a free consultation with our lawyers, call (609) 616-4956.
Will You Be Deported If You Are Charged with a Crime in New Jersey?
Your top concern is undoubtedly whether your criminal charges will cause you to be deported. Again, we recommend that you seek legal advice from an immigration lawyer for information regarding deportation and citizenship issues.
While the answer to your questions about immigration consequences will ultimately depend on your unique facts and circumstances, offenses that are classified as aggravated felonies or crimes involving moral turpitude are considered automatically deportable upon conviction by the United States government. The laws pertaining to the admissibility of immigrants can be found under 8 U.S.C. § 1182. They include, but are not limited to:
- Drug offenses including distributing, manufacturing, trafficking, and certain drug possession charges
- Sex crimes including assault or sexual abuse of a minor
- Homicide and manslaughter cases, including vehicular homicide
- Stealing crimes such as robbery, burglary, theft, and forgery
While the law spells out conditions and crimes for which an immigrant may be denied entry or deported, there are some exceptions carved out as well. Suppose you were convicted of a drug crime or a crime of moral turpitude. In that case, you may be exempt from automatic deportation or denial of entry if you were under 18 at the time and you were released from any confinement more than 5 years before your application for entry or a visa. You may also be exempt from automatic deportation or denial if the crime you committed was not punishable by more than 1 year in prison and your actual sentence was not longer than 6 months.
However, there may be no exemptions if you were convicted of 2 or more crimes and the aggregate sentence was at least 5 years in confinement. This includes any crime, not just crimes of moral turpitude.
The best way to protect your status and avoid a conviction is to hire an experienced lawyer right away. Our New Jersey criminal defense lawyers for immigrants are here to help. Our aggressive defense attorneys understand how to protect the interests of immigrants in a criminal matter.
How Would a Criminal Conviction in New Jersey Impact Your Immigration Status?
If you are an undocumented immigrant or a lawful permanent resident carrying a green card, a criminal conviction may impact your ability to travel freely or to obtain or renew a green card. If you are seeking a visa or other entry into the United States, certain convictions might prevent you from gaining entry. That is why it is critical to have an attorney who can prepare a strong defense.
Aliens and immigrants already present in the United States might face deportation if they are convicted of a crime. Those seeking to enter the United States or bring a family member into the country may find themselves or their loved one denied entry. Your situation will depend on the type of crime for which you or your family member was convicted.
Crimes of moral turpitude may lead to being deemed inadmissible, but the law also states numerous other offenses that may make a person inadmissible:
- Controlled substance trafficking
- Foreign government officials who committed serious violations of religious freedom
- Human Trafficking
- Money Laundering
You may also be deemed inadmissible even if you asserted immunity from prosecution for certain crimes. If you committed a serious crime in the United States and exercised immunity from prosecution before departing from the country, you may be inadmissible if you try to return.
These restrictions may apply to immigrants seeking entry into the United States and those who are lawfully or unlawfully present and wish to adjust their status. Adjusting your status means changing your immigration status, usually to something more permanent or long-term. You could adjust your status from unlawful to lawful or from a lawful resident to a citizen. The above criminal convictions could prevent such an adjustment. Our New Jersey criminal defense attorneys for immigrants can help you fight your charges and hopefully avoid deportation or other threats to your immigration status.
What Should I Do If I Am Arrested as an Immigrant in New Jersey?
If you are arrested, do not panic. It is possible that immigration authorities might be alerted to your arrest, but deportation or other negative effects on your immigration status are usually not imposed until after a conviction. In many cases, criminal trials can take several weeks or months to complete. Our New Jersey criminal defense attorneys for immigrants can help you fight your charges while you consult with an immigration attorney about your status.
Even if you are not a citizen, you will be afforded all the privileges and protections as any United States citizen in the criminal justice system. This means you have the same rights as anyone else. You absolutely have the right to hire an attorney of your own choosing, the right to a trial by jury, and the right to confront witnesses against you. After being arrested, the first thing you should do is call an attorney who can explain what is going on.
The process may be difficult if you are not an English speaker. Many immigrants who speak very little English often feel intimidated and overwhelmed. Sometimes, they falsely incriminate themselves because they are afraid to stand up for their rights. Our New Jersey criminal defense lawyers will stand up for you and work to hopefully get you acquitted.
How Criminal Convictions in Your Home Country May Affect Your Immigration Status in New Jersey
The criminal convictions discussed above do not necessarily have to happen after you arrive in the United States. Criminal convictions in your home country will also be considered when you attempt to enter the United States or adjust your immigration status. In many situations, you need a U.S. citizen to sponsor you. For example, to get a green card, you must have a U.S. citizen sponsor you or vouch for your credibility. Not only will your criminal record be scrutinized, but so will the record of your sponsor.
In most situations, you will be asked to disclose your criminal history. It may be tempting to lie and say you have never been convicted if you have a criminal record. However, once the United States government discovers the truth, you could be penalized for providing false information, and you could be denied entry or denied a green card or status adjustment.
You may have to provide documentation from your home country proving you have a clean criminal record. This often requires obtaining a letter or official statements from law enforcement in your home country stating you have no history of criminal convictions. Our New Jersey criminal defense attorneys for immigrants cannot help you with past convictions in another country. However, we can help you with any U.S. convictions or pending charges.
Call Our New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorneys for Immigrants
If you are trying to enter the United States or adjust immigration status, a criminal conviction may hinder you. Our New Jersey criminal defense attorneys for immigrants can help you fight any charges. Call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych for a free legal consultation. Call us at (609) 616-4956 for help.