Although noncitizens are less likely to commit crimes than those who are, there are important things to know when facing a criminal charge when it comes to immigration status. The outcome of criminal charges often leads to a non citizen entering removal proceedings which is sometimes due to lack of effective counsel. This is important because entering intoremoval proceedings often times leads to deportation.
If criminal charges are brought up against you, you have a right to an attorney. They may inform you that the charges may impact your immigration status but keep in mind that a conviction of certain crimes leads to removal proceedings. Being convicted of a crime can mean many different things. You can do a no contest plea where you do not admit you are guilty but you do not go against the charge. You may also admit enough facts that the judge can find that you committed the crime, or the judge may restrain your liberties by giving special terms for a release. This can include probation, supervised release, community service, house arrest, or drug testing.
Being convicted of a crime may have negative effects on an immigration case. Many non citizens in removal proceedings unknowingly admit they have committed a removable offense and argue that they should not be deported because they are eligible for release from deportation. However, being convicted of a crime can mean that someone is no longer eligible for relief. Sometimes, even if all the requirements are met to be eligible for relief fromdeportation, a conviction of a crime man influence a judge who can use their discretion to deny relief. Something that appears to be as insignificant like mail fraud which is a low level state offense, can be an aggravated felony under immigration law and can lead to deportation. Some lawyers may argue and encourage you to accept a guilty plea for many reasons. In most cases, a plea deal would be a favorable outcome however, accepting that plea dealmay count as a conviction for a removable offense triggering removal proceedings. These proceedings are considered to be part a of civil law, meaning that there are different rights a defendant has. In criminal court the defendant has a right to counsel whereas in civil court you do not have the right to an attorney but rather counsel is an option. It is worthy to note that the immigration process is complicated and that, according to a case study between 2007 and 2012, attorney representation makes noncitizens four times more likely to be released from detention and more likely to apply for and obtain relief from removal than those who are notrepresented by an attorney.