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Immigration Consequences of Crimes

An immigrant can be removed (deported) and excluded from coming into the United States if he is convicted of a “crime involving moral turpitude” (CIMT), certain drug offenses, or “aggravated felony.” CIMT are not specifically defined. However, the general idea conveyed in the immigration law is that these crimes include fraud, larceny and harm to persons or property. Whether driving under the influence will be considered as a CIMT depends on the circumstances.

Crimes against the person involve moral turpitude when criminal intent is an element of the offense. Such criminal intent may be inferred from the presence of unjustified violence or the use of a dangerous weapon. Often, lesser related offenses or lesser degrees of the same offenses might not involve moral turpitude absent criminal intent, unjustified violence, or the use of a dangerous weapon as elements of the offense.

Examples of crimes against the person found to involve moral turpitude (CIMT):

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Criminal Convictions in Immigration Law

Criminal defendants seek to minimize possible time in prison and often desire to avoid a risky trial. However, a plea bargain or a plea of no contest may make the defendant deportable or excludable from the United States. For years defendants who had been advised by their criminal attorney to plead guilty or nolo to a crime in order to get the best deal from the criminal law point of view, were shocked to learn that their plea resulted in them being deportable or excludable. In 2010, the US Supreme Court ruled in Padilla v. Kentucky, 130 S. Ct. 1473 (2010) that a criminal attorney failure to advise a non citizen client the immigration consequence of entering a plea is ineffective assistance of counsel.  This ineffective assistance of counsel could be a constitutional basis to set aside guilty plea and conviction.

Not all convictions will make a defendant excludable. The following convictions are not a basis for exclusion:

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