Since the Supreme Court’s holding in Padilla v. Kentucky, it’s become critical for criminal defense attorneys to know the immigration consequences of criminal conduct and convictions. In Padilla, the Supreme Court held that the Sixth Amendment requires defense attorneys to advise non-citizens on the immigration consequences of their pleas.
Below you will find a quick introduction to the basics of immigration consequences. You will also useful links to criminal-immigration “cheat sheets” and articles. If you need to schedule a free initial consultation with a criminal immigration lawyer, feel free to e-mail or call at 1-888-407-7014.
3 Reasons Why You Should Know the Immigration Consequences of Criminal Activity
First, the Supreme Court says you should. In early 2010, the Court ruled that criminal defense attorneys are required to advise clients on the immigration consequences of their pleas. Failure to do so constitutes “ineffective assistance of counsel.”
Second, it’s critical for the well-being of your non-citizen clients. The wrong plea can put them in removal proceedings. It can destroy any hope of relief from removal. It can make them deportable.
In short, a plea’s immigration consequences can be worse than its criminal consequences.
Third, criminal appeals attorneys need to know the immigration consequences in order to argue ineffective assistance.
Convictions That Trigger Deportability
The Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”) lays out several grounds of deportability. (Deportability grounds apply to immigrants who have entered lawfully, after inspection and authorization.) These include the following criminal convictions:
1. Controlled Substance Offenses. Note: An important exception is a single offense of possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana for one’s own use.
2. Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude.
3. Multiple Moral Turpitude Convictions.
4. Aggravated Felonies.
5. Firearms and Destructive Device Offenses.
6. Espionage, Sabotage, Treason, and Other Crimes.
7. Domestic Violence, Stalking, Child Abuse, Child Abandonment or Neglect.
8. Failure to Register as a Sex Offender.
9. High-Speed Flight From An Immigration Checkpoint.
10. Failure to Register or Falsification of Documents.
Convictions That Trigger Inadmissibility
Inadmissibility grounds apply to aliens that did not enter the country lawfully (i.e., those who entered without inspection and authorization). They include convictions for the following:
1. Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude.
2. Controlled Substance Offenses.
3. Multiple Criminal Convictions.
Conduct-Related Grounds For Removal
Keep in mind that convictions are not the only source of immigration consequences. Criminal conduct can also affect a non-citizen’s chances of deportation. This means that even if a defendant is not convicted, but admits to certain conduct, he can be removed from the United States.
Consequences on Relief From Removal
There are numerous types of immigration consequences. Criminal convictions not only can make an alien deportable or inadmissible, they can also affect his ability to get relief from removal.
A criminal conviction can disqualify an alien from receiving cancellation of removal. For cancellation, a lawful permanent resident (“LPR”) must prove he has no convictions for aggravated felonies. A non-LPR must prove he was not convicted of a broader range of criminal offenses, and that he has had “good moral character.”
Criminal activity can also affect the alien’s chances of receiving the following types of relief:
- withholding of removal
- protection under the Convention Against Torture
- adjustment of status
- Temporary Protected Status
- voluntary departure
I accept clients that need representation before the Dallas Immigration Court, the Houston Immigration Court, the San Antonio Immigration Court, the El Paso Immigration Court, the Harlingen Immigration Court, and the Houston Asylum Office. I accept clients from throughout Texas, including Dallas, Fort Worth, Irving, Garland, Coppell, Carrollton, Richardson, Houston, San Antonio, Austin, Midland, El Paso, Beaumont, Waco, San Angelo, and Lubbock.